Port Stephens has a new deputy mayor, with experienced councillor Paul Le Mottee elected to the position at Tuesday's council meeting.
A west ward councillor who resides in Butterwick, Cr Le Mottee beat fellow west ward nominee and Labor councillor Giacomo Arnott six votes to three.
Earlier Cr John Nell, who had made a last minute decision to stand, had been eliminated in a three-way ballot.
"To be elected to council, the community needs to believe you're going to do a good job - but to be elected as deputy mayor, the councillors need to know you're going to do a good job," Cr Le Mottee said.
"I'm very excited to continue to work with my fellow councillors in this new role and focus on delivering for our Port Stephens community."
Cr Le Mottee is head of the Raymond Terrace-based Le Mottee Group which offers services in surveying, town planning, civil engineering and project management among others.
He is an accredited strata certifier, vice president of the Housing Industry Australia and member of the Country Surveyors Assoc. & Planning Institute of Australia.
He will hold the role of deputy mayor for a period of 12 months.
Cr Arnott said that he put his hand up for the position because he felt Port Stephens needed someone who the community could trust, who would commit themselves 100 per cent to the role and who would be a strong advocate for the area.
"The result is disappointing and shows that this council is happy to accept more of the same. I thank the other two councillors who put their faith in me and I will continue to hold this council to account at every opportunity."
Prior to the meeting it was revealed that incumbent deputy Chris Doohan and his predecessor Sarah Smith had deciding against standing for the position.
"After a lot of discussion and thought, I had decided not to run and instead nominate Cr Le Mottee for the role," Cr Doohan said.
"I have been extremely proud and honoured to represent Port Stephens as the deputy mayor for five of the past six years (I believe this is a record). I am more than confident that Cr Le Mottee will fill my shoes well. Over the past six years I am grateful that my fellow councillors and mayors have put there trust in me to fulfill this position and I feel I have served them and the community well."
Cr Smith, who won the deputy ballot just 12 months into her first term on council in 2018, said that she would not be nominating as it was "time for someone else to have a turn".
Originally scheduled for this month, the local government elections for mayor and councillors were postponed for 12 months till September 2021 due to COVID-19.