Clover Moore leading Sydney mayoral race

After 17 years in the role, Clover Moore says she still has much to do as Sydney's Lord Mayor.
After 17 years in the role, Clover Moore says she still has much to do as Sydney's Lord Mayor.

Sydney's long-standing Independent Lord Mayor Clover Moore is off to a flying start in her drive to extend her record tenure, after polls closed in the NSW local government elections.

With 15.8 per cent of the vote counted, Ms Moore has 42.9 per cent of first preferences, streets ahead of her two nearest competitors, Independent Yvonne Weldon and Labor's Linda Scott, both on 16.4 per cent.

While the early result suggests a swing against her of nearly 15 per cent, that's compared to her landslide win in 2016, when she won almost 58 per cent of the vote.

Ms.Moore has got four decades of public service under her belt, 17 of them as Sydney's Lord Mayor, but Clover Moore says her work is far from done.

"We have been able to achieve so much but we have a lot more to do," she told AAP.

She rattles off a list including the council's goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, growing green spaces across the city, improving access to social and affordable housing, and repairing the CBD's economy and council's own coffers post COVID.

The race for the mayoralty of Sydney was one of more than 120 elections across the state on Saturday.

It was an all female field, with many of Ms.Moore's opponents arguing it was time for a changing of the guard at Town Hall.

She was first elected as Lord Mayor in 2004, 16 years after she joined the state parliament in 1988.

She managed both responsibilities until 2012, when new legislation forced her to choose between the roles.

Ms Moore was aiming to repeat her 2016 victory on Saturday.

"I never like to say I'm confident, I like to say I'm optimistic," she said.

While the pandemic forced the elections to be postponed twice, it has also seen the NSW Electoral Commission utilise online voting at a local government level for the first time.

But even that has not been without disruption, with the website crashing as a result of heavy traffic, and in turn seeing lines at polling centres swell.

The NSW Electoral Commission said more than 650,000 voters had cast their ballot using its iVote system for these elections, compared to 234,401 for the 2019 state poll.

Any eligible elector who missed out on voting because of the system crash won't be fined, it said.

Australian Associated Press