The Liberal Party could lose one councillor position in both Wollongong and Shellhabour, after the party’s primary voted dipped well below 2011 levels.
But mayoral candidate John Dorahy maintained the election had been a good result, delivering the “second highest Liberal vote ever” in Illawarra council elections.
In the primary mayoral vote, his results were well below the 2011 poll: nearly seven percentage points – and about 7000 votes – down to 16 per cent.
“This is the second best Liberal count ever, but it’s just unfortunate that Wollongong is such a Labor stranglehold,” Cr Dorahy, who will be re-elected as a councillor in ward 2, said.
“The people of Wollongong really need to get their head around making this area a swinging seat if they want to get funding from state and federal governments.”
Cr Dorahy said he was “disappointed that Michelle Blicavs looks like missing out” on re-election.
The second-placed Liberal candidate in the central suburbs will be the underdog for the final spot in ward 2, behind Labor’s Tania Brown.
But Cr Blicavs was staying positive on Sunday afternoon, saying she would wait to see the distribution of preferences before conceding the final spot.
Like Cr Dorahy, she said voters in Wollongong needed to change their tune.
“Politics leans to the left in this city and I feel for the thousands of voters who continue to support the Liberal cause,” she said.
“We will continue to fight for this city and put forward the Liberal voice, but the only way we’ll get change is to change the voting pattern.”
The Liberal vote was also down in Shellharbour compared with six years ago, when two of the party’s candidates were easily elected.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward’s pick, Nathan Cattell, has got over the line, but second-placed Shellharbour contender Zachary Fitzpatrick looks out of the count.
And while his opponents said the hit to Liberal votes could signal trouble for the state MP at future elections, Mr Ward said he was confident his votes would hold strong.
“I was personally delighted that we had strong results in the Shellharbour booths that are in my Kiama electorate,” he said.
He said he was proud the party had retained three or four councillors in Wollongong, and that Mr Cattell was a good example of the changing future of the Illawarra Liberals.