Labor insiders expect close preselection battles in wards two and four when party members vote on Saturday to decide who will contest the Newcastle council elections in September.
All seven incumbent Labor councillors, including lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes, are facing preselection contests in a partially coordinated challenge to the party's established majority bloc.
Party sources say ward two councillor Carol Duncan and ward four's Deahnna Richardson and Elizabeth Adamczyk will face the strongest challenges from rival candidates.
Adamstown branch member Paige Johnson has launched a rival ticket in ward two while Beresfield branch secretary Tahlia Kelso has nominated in ward four on a ticket with Mary Harrington and Julie Davies.
Newcastle Labor local government committee member Sandra Feltham has nominated in ward one against deputy lord mayor Declan Clausen on a ticket with Shirley Schulz-Robinson and Lezlie Tilley.
Both sides of the internal struggle have lodged multiple challenges to voter eligibility after a "credentialling" process for all 12 Labor branches concluded last weekend.
Some of the challenges involve Beresfield members who were denied eligibility after the branch allegedly failed to meet often enough last year to maintain its credentials.
The internal challenges will be heard and resolved on Wednesday. The process is expected to leave about 300 members eligible to vote.
The eligible members will decide on a preferred three-person ticket within their ward and all members across the city will vote on the lord mayoral preselection, where Cr Nelmes faces a challenge from Newcastle East anesthesiologist Dr Ross Kerridge.
Cr Nelmes has also nominated at the top of a ticket in ward three with fellow incumbent councillors Peta Winney-Baartz and Margaret Wood.
The lord mayor contested ward three in the 2021 council election to help boost Labor's vote before vacating the ward position when she won the lord mayoral vote.
The move paid dividends as Labor retained its two ward-three councillors and its council majority.
Dr Kerridge is also contesting ward three in Saturday's preselection vote at number two on a ticket with Linda Barter and Georgetown-Waratah branch secretary Justin Davis.
Tensions are building inside the party as the vote approaches and factional, personal and policy differences rise to the surface.
The Newcastle Herald has been told the "privatisation" of the city's five inland pools and the Scott Neylon letter-writing saga have been the most fractious issues at candidate forums in the past week.
Dr Kerridge has publicly questioned the performance of the council under Cr Nelmes while campaigning for what he has termed the "Community First" team of ward challengers.
He wrote to branch members last week accusing the council of "secrecy" over its 2043 Inland Pools Strategy and the decision to sign a 21-year contract with private operator Bluefit.
"Too many decisions are being made behind closed doors and then being announced to the community," he wrote.
"Rank-and-file members of the Labor party are expected to be supportive of these decisions that have been made without their involvement.
"This has to change. There has to be clear, open accountability from the bureaucracy to the councillors, and from the councillors to the rank-and-file members.
"Please support my candidacy for lord mayor and the Community First Team in your ward."