Liberal Party candidate Philip Ruddock is set to don the mayoral chains for Hornsby Council.
With more than 77,000 votes counted, the former immigration minister has 47.63 per cent of first-preference votes for the popularly elected mayoral position.
“I have a very ambitious program I wish to pursue,” the 74-year-old parliamentary veteran said. “I am keen to press strongly on the development issues and focus on what I think the community wants to see.
“Service for me is about the people you represent and I am anxious to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Hornsby shire.”
The former federal member for Berowra’s surprise return came after Steve Russell, who served as Hornsby mayor from 2012, was ousted by the Liberal Party.
Greens candidate Emma Heyde is in second place with 18.61 per cent of first-preference votes.
More than 99,000 votes will be counted to decide who will become mayor of Hornsby Council and who will be among the nine councillors on the new council.
With votes still being counted, it is likely the new council will include four Liberal councillors, two Greens councillors with the three remaining spots requiring preferences to resolve.
In Ward A, the Liberals have 48.50 per cent of votes with just over 28,000 votes counted. Liberal’s Nathan Tilbury will likely retain his seat and be joined by fellow party member Warren Waddell.
Independent mayoral candidate Mick Gallagher, who has 8.65 per cent of mayoral votes, might not return to council. With nearly 25,000 votes counted in Ward B, Liberal candidate Robert Browne will stay on council and be joined by Greens candidate Joseph Nicita.
It is a close race for the remaining spot, with 27,000 votes counted seeing Greens holding 20.97 per cent of votes against Labor’s 18.55 per cent.
Labor mayoral candidate Janelle McIntosh, who has 14.98 per cent of votes, may miss out on a spot. Independent mayoral candidate Christine Berman, may also not be successful with 10.14 per cent of votes. In Ward C, mayoral Greens candidate Emma Heyde has likely secured a spot and Liberal’s Michael Hutchence should return.