NEIL Gorey is leading the Greater Wakool Ward race for a spot on the inaugural Murray River Council.
At 11am yesterday, a total of 1912 votes had been counted with the former Wakool Shire Mayor in a prime position for a seat on the amalgamated southern New South Wales border council.
Mr Gorey had attracted 755 or 41.03 per cent of first preference votes.
Three positions representing the Greater Wakool Ward, which incorporates the townships of Barham, Wakool, Moulamein, Murray Downs and Tooleybuc, were up for grabs in Saturday's election, one of 46 staged across New South Wales.
The Murray River Council was established following the amalgamation of the former Wakool and Murray Shires by the NSW Government, despite widespread opposition to the move.
Former Wakool Shire councillors Alan Mathers and Ann Crowe also appear destined to play a role in the new council.
Mr Mathers, a Barham dairy farmer, sits in second place courtesy of 461 first preference votes, 25.05 per cent of the total counted.
Murray Downs resident Ann Crowe, the only candidate from the western end of the shire, was also in a good position with 371 votes (20.16 per cent).
Katherine O'Brien (140 votes) and Christine Dartnell (113 votes) were the other candidates standing for election.
Mr Gorey said yesterday residents in the Wakool Ward had "huge expectations" for council to deliver.
"I think at times during the fight to stop the merger residents felt we did the right thing in fighting," Mr Gorey said.
"With Ann and Alan, we have a very good team from Wakool and look forward to a strong, working relationship."
The voting is as clear cut in the Moama Ward where Nicole Cohen is out in front.
With 1864 votes counted, Ms Cohen has attracted 43.68 per cent of the vote, with Chris Bilkey and Gen Campbell the other two in the box seat for positions.
The race for a council spot is tighter in the Greater Murray Ward.
Geoff Wise (34.35 per cent) and Thomas Weyrich (25.23 per cent) lead the way after counting of 2119 votes.
Tony Aquino is third courtesy of 16.81 per cent of first preferences, although John Pocklington (12.25 per cent) and Nicole Stenhouse (11.37 per cent) are within striking distance.
Final results are expected by September 16.