Incumbent Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer says he has "never hit refresh on a screen" more than in the past few days with the council's mayoral election result hanging on a knife edge.
Before online votes were published, Mr Palmer was holding 50.3 per cent of the count in the mayoral contest, little more than 200 votes clear of Labor's Lead Anderson with 49.7 per cent.
"It all comes down to iVote," Mr Palmer said on Wednesday. "We're just waiting for that to come through.
"The postals are slowly trickling in ... but they are still pretty close. There's not a lot between us."
Only a few hundred votes have separated the pair since election night, when at one point they even had the exact same number of votes.
The two-horse race became clearer on Wednesday afternoon when the online votes were finally published, with Palmer's lead extending to 367 votes overall.
Despite moving forward, Mr Palmer refused to declare victory and said he would likely wait until there is an official result announced.
"I can't imagine there are too many more votes to come in from postal," he said.
"There's 57,000 electors, 47,000 votes have come in and generally you get 20 per cent that don't turn up.
"[A lead of] 367 isn't really declaration country, I think we'll have to see every vote come in from postal. I'm very happy with a 367-vote lead, but I won't be declaring unless there is a massive upswing in postal votes."
If Mr Palmer is returned as mayor, the Port Stephens council chamber will be made up of five independents, four Labor councillors and one Liberal councillor.
In Cessnock, after the online count was published, Labor's Jay Suuval was holding 42.7 per cent of the mayoral vote.
He is expected to claim that contest ahead of independent Ian Olsen (27.3 per cent), Liberal John Moores (19.1 per cent) and Green Janet Murray (10.8 per cent).
"Based on what's in front of us ... I would feel pretty comfortable I'll be elected as mayor," Mr Suuval said. "I'm excited to work with all the other councillors in the role."
The online ballot has all but locked in the remaining seats in the Newcastle council chamber.
Liberal Jenny Barrie and The Greens' Charlotte McCabe are set join Labor's Carol Duncan in Ward 2.
Liberals Katrina Wark (Ward 3) and Callum Pull (Ward 4) appear to won their places, while Labor is expected to claim two seats in both wards 3 and 4. Those outcomes would leave John Church (Ward 1) as the sole independent on council.
The final outcome of the elections might not be known for weeks with postal voting not closing until Friday, December 17.
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: