Labor believes it is on track to retain its majority in the Newcastle council chamber with the votes returned so far reflecting its 2017 result.
The party's candidates, members and supporters were celebrating the positive showing at the Sunnyside Tavern in Broadmeadow on Saturday night with incumbent Nuatali Nelmes declared the winner of the city's lord mayoral race at about 9.30pm.
"While we still haven't got the mayoral results from all our booths, more than half of the booths are in, and our results have held - the lord mayor has been re-elected," reigning deputy lord mayor Declan Clausen said.
The announcement drew cheers and applause from the room of more than 50 supporters and came after earlier jubilation when the lord mayor entered the venue and gave an initial speech.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: The Herald's live coverage
As of 10.30pm, Nelmes had garnered 41.7 per cent of the mayoral vote - on par with the 42.6 per cent she was elected with in 2017.
Her nearest challenger was John Church of the Newcastle Independents who had 26.1 per cent, a near six-point improvement on his colleague Kath Elliott's 2017 result.
The Greens' John Mackenzie sat on 15.6 per cent, while Jenny Barrie of the Liberals was on 11.1 per cent.
More than 44,000 mayoral votes had been counted by 10.30pm, a bit over a third of the registered voters.
Should the lord mayoral result be deemed official, Cr Nelmes will be entering a third term in the city's top civic role.
"It is wonderful to have very similar results to last time and to know that all the work we put in over the last term of council has paid off," she said after thanking her family, supporters and the party's affiliate unions.
"I don't think sometimes people realise how brutal local politics can be. Well let me tell you, it can be pretty brutal.
"The best result is the result like we've got today.
"And although my name is on the ballot paper, and you hear me as a spokesperson for council ... it is only on the shoulders of all of the work of the people here tonight."
Labor held seven of the 13 seats in the council chamber this past term, including the lord mayor, and the party was confident on Saturday night of retaining that majority.
Declan Clausen said based on the numbers returned before 9.30pm, "we can confidently say Labor has been returned with a first candidate elected in every single ward".
"And with some positive swings happening in some booths in Wards 3 and 4, we're also looking relatively positive, we're still in the race for our second councillor in Wards 3 and 4 as well, which was the campaign strategy and may well deliver us the majority on council," he said.
The Newcastle Independents lord mayoral candidate said earlier in the night he would hold off declaring a winner until an official result.
"I'm going to wait for the electoral commission to make an announcement," he said.
The Independents had a bloc of four on council this past term but retaining that number appears highly unlikely.
Their Ward 4 ticket, led by Kath Elliott who shifted from Ward 2 where she served on council this past term, has garnered only 9.80 per cent of the vote.
The Greens look like they could have another seat in addition to incumbent John Mackenzie in Ward 1, and the Liberals are also a chance of picking up at least one but possibly two seats.
However the final outcome of the election might not be known for weeks with postal voting not closing until Friday, December 17.
There are more than 123,000 people enrolled to vote in the Newcastle LGA .
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