HUNDREDS of thousands of voters in 11 Hunter local government areas will head to the polling booths today for the 2012 local government elections.
Constituents will vote for councillors they think will best represent their interests at a grassroots level over the next four years. Some will also elect a mayor.
Dungog, Gloucester, Great Lakes, Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook councils will elect their mayor “in-house”.
The bigger councils of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Maitland, Cessnock and Singleton will elect their mayor by popular vote.
A mayor elected by the voters serves a four-year term, and mayors elected by fellow councillors serve for one year.
Newcastle City Council will have a new leader, with long-time mayor John Tate (Independent) stepping down. Labor’s Nuatali Nelmes is tipped as a favourite to take the title.
To watch video of each Newcastle lord mayoral candidate addressing a public forum, clickhere.
In Maitland, incumbent mayor and local government stalwart Peter Blackmore (Independent) will have another crack at the title, and if successful will enter his fourth term as the city’s leader.
All eyes will be on the Cessnock electorate following turmoil and division between councillors and the council’s senior management team led by mayor Alison Davey and general manager Lea Rosser.
Cr Davey (Independent) will again vie for the mayoral position but will have strong competition from deputy mayor Cordelia Burcham (Liberal), Bob Pynsent (Country Labor) and James Ryan (Greens).
Polling booths will open at 8am today and close at 6pm.
A full list of polling places for all electorates is available at www.votensw.info.
The penalty for failing to vote at a state election or local government election is $55.
The Herald will have live coverage of election results online later this evening.