Shoalhaven council election, 2021

The City of Shoalhaven covers parts of the south coast from Shoalhaven Heads to Durras North. Towns in the council include Nowra, Berry, Ulladulla, Milton, Sussex Inlet and Huskisson.

The council has a population of about 106,000 people as of 2019.

Shoalhaven is divided into three wards, with each ward electing four councillors. The council also directly elects a mayor, adding up to a total of thirteen councillors.

Ward 1 covers the northern end of the council, including Kangaroo Valley, Berry, Shoalhaven Heads, Bomaderry and most of Nowra.

Ward 2 covers towns around Jervis Bay and to the south of Nowra, including Vincentia, Huskisson, Culburra and the southern outskirts of Nowra.

Ward 3 covers the southern half of the council, Ulladulla, Milton and Sussex Inlet.

All three wards were changed, but most of the changes did not involve a lot of voters shifting wards. About 90% of voters remain in the same ward.

Ward 2 was previously constrained to the coast but now stretches to the western border of the council area.

Ward 1 previously covered more area on the south side of the Shoalhaven River, but most of this area has been moved to Ward 2.

The border between Ward 2 and Ward 3 previously ran through the centre of Tomerong, but the town has been moved entirely into Ward 3.

Incumbent mayor
Amanda Findley (Greens)

Incumbent councillors

Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3
Annette Alldrick (Labor) Joanna Gash (Independent) Kaye Gartner (Greens)
Nina Digiglio (Greens) John Levett (Greens) Mark Kitchener (SIG)
Andrew Guile (SIG) Mitchell Pakes (SIG) Bob Proudfoot (SIG)
John Wells (SIG) Greg Watson (SIG) Patricia White (SIG)

Shoalhaven tends to vote for conservative parties at a state and federal level, but until recently there wasn’t as much structure in terms of parties on the council as there is now.

Greg Watson has been the leading figure in the Shoalhaven Independents Group for at least the last two decades. After having served as Mayor of Shoalhaven in the 1970s and 1980s, he won the directly-elected mayoralty in 1999.

Watson was re-elected in 2004 along with six other SIG councillors, giving them a majority. Four independents and two Greens were also elected.

Watson was defeated for re-election in 2008 by another independent, Paul Green, who polled 31% of the primary vote and ended up with 57% after preferences. Watson returned as one of four Shoalhaven Independents councillors, alongside eight other independents and one Green. Those eight independents were elected on six different tickets. Gareth Ward elected a second independent with him in Ward 1, and Paul Green’s running mate took his council seat in Ward 2 with him elected mayor. The other four were elected on solo tickets, and it is not clear if there was any broader faction that some of them may have belonged to.

Green and Ward were both elected to state parliament in 2011: Greens as a Christian Democratic member of the upper house and Ward as the Liberal MP for Kiama. Both vacated the council scene in 2012, but were replaced by another big political identity.

Joanna Gash had held the federal seat of Gilmore since 1996 (she would retire in 2013), and ran her own ticket for council with her as the mayoral candidate at the 2012 council election.

Team Gash won seven council seats, and Gash herself easily won the mayoralty with 63% of the primary vote. This gave her faction a clear council majority. The Shoalhaven Independents were reduced to just three seats, along with one independent and one Green.

The Gash wave did not last. The faction had polled almost 50% for council in 2012, but this dropped to less than 29% in 2016. The vote for Shoalhaven Independents shot up by 15%, and there was also a swing to the Greens of 7.7%. Labor also ran for the council for the first time in recent history.

Team Gash won just one seat in each council ward. Shoalhaven Independents won five, and the Greens also won a seat in each ward. Labor won their first seat.

The mayoral race was a close three-way race. Gash led on 37.4%, followed by the Greens’ Amanda Findley on 32.1% and Watson on 30.5%. Watson’s preferences boosted Findley and she won by 1394 votes.

The current council thus had a split of 5 Shoalhaven Independents, 4 Greens (including the mayor), one Labor and three for Team Gash. Thus a left-wing minority on the council sat alongside two different groups of conservative independents.

Greens and Labor supported Kitchener from the Shoalhaven Independents for deputy mayor and White from Team Gash for assistant deputy mayor in 2016.

White moved up to deputy mayor with Pakes from SIG as assistant deputy mayor, both unopposed, in 2017.

This peace broke down in 2018, when Joanna Gash’s two factional colleagues both broke with her and aligned with the Shoalhaven Independents, giving SIG a majority on the council. The Greens contested both leadership roles that year but lost both races to the incumbents.

Every leadership election since 2018 has been won by the expanded SIG, with Greens and Labor on the losing side, and Gash floating freely.

White and Pakes held those jobs yet again in 2019, with Labor’s Alldrick running with Greens support for deputy mayor. The Greens again contested both jobs unsuccessfully in 2020, with Watson returning to the deputy mayoralty.

Candidate summary

The Greens and the Shoalhaven Independents are both running full tickets, including a mayoral candidate and candidates in three wards. Labor is running in all three wards but is not running for mayor. The only sitting Greens councillor to run again is the Mayor, Amanda Findley. Five of the seven SI councillors are running again, including the two who joined the group after being elected in 2016 with Joanna Gash.

The Shoalhaven Independents are running three mayoral candidates. Former Shoalhaven mayor and Christian Democratic Party MLC Paul Green is running for mayor but not for council.

Cr Nina Digiglio, elected in 2016 on the Greens ticket, had formed her own ticket called “Shoalhaven Community First” which intended to nominate a full ticket, but she only managed to successfully nominate for mayor.

There are also two other independent groups running for council.

The full candidate list is at the end of this guide.

The election of a Greens mayor in 2016 was a big change from the kinds of people who usually win the mayoralty of Shoalhaven. The normal state of affairs has been restored on the council, with a conservative independent majority in power despite the Greens mayor.

It will be an uphill challenge for Findlay to be re-elected, or for a supportive council to be elected.

If the Labor and Greens vote stays at about the level they polled in 2016, you could see the two parties getting six seats. Labor came close to winning a seat in Ward 3, and did not run in Ward 2. In this scenario, the council would be split 6-6 between the left and right, and the winner of the mayoralty would set the direction of the council.

2016 council election result

Party Votes % Swing Seats won
Shoalhaven Independents 21,510 36.77 +15.3 5
Team Gash 16,771 28.67 -20.7 3
Greens 12,290 21.01 +7.7 3
Labor 6,531 11.16 +11.2 1
For A Better Shoalhaven 1,394 2.38 -13.5
Informal 3,637 5.85

2016 mayoral election result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Joanna Gash Independent 22,264 37.35 -25.8
Amanda Findley Greens 19,157 32.13 +20.5
Greg Watson Shoalhaven Independents 18,196 30.52 +16.1
Informal 2,413 3.89

2016 mayoral election two-candidate-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes %
Amanda Findley Greens 26,490 51.35
Joanna Gash Independent 25,096 48.65
Exhausted 8,031

Vote breakdown by ward
The following tables show the vote in each ward before and after the recent redistribution, for council and for mayor.

The Shoalhaven Independents Group topped the poll in all three wards, with a vote ranging from 31.5% in Ward 1 to just over 39% in the other two wards. They won one seat in Ward 1 and two each in the other two.

Team Gash came second in each ward, with the Greens third. Each of these parties won one seat each in each ward.

Gash topped the mayoral poll in all three wards. The Shoalhaven Independents vote was highest in Ward 2, but less than the Greens in the other two wards.

The redistribution boosted SIG in wards 1 and 2 at expense of Ward 3. The Greens slightly improved in Ward 3 while Team Gash improved in Ward 2.

Council results by 2016 ward

Ward SIG % GASH % GRN % ALP %
Ward 1 31.5 29.0 23.7 15.8
Ward 2 39.1 32.1 21.5 0.0
Ward 3 39.4 25.3 18.1 17.2

Mayoral results by 2016 ward

Ward Gash % GRN % SIG %
Ward 1 39.3 33.7 27.0
Ward 2 34.7 31.5 33.8
Ward 3 38.0 31.3 30.6

Council results by 2021 ward

Ward SIG % GASH % GRN % ALP %
Ward 1 31.7 29.9 23.4 14.0
Ward 2 40.5 29.6 21.3 2.6
Ward 3 38.4 26.5 18.3 16.5

Mayoral results by 2021 ward

Ward Gash % GRN % SIG %
Ward 1 39.0 33.8 27.2
Ward 2 34.3 31.2 34.5
Ward 3 38.6 31.3 30.1

Election results at the 2016 City of Shoalhaven election
Toggle between primary votes for Shoalhaven Independents, Team Gash, the Greens and Labor.

Election results at the 2016 City of Shoalhaven mayoral election
Toggle between primary votes for Joanna Gash, Amanda Findley and Greg Watson.

Candidates – Mayor

  • Paul Green (Independent)
  • Cr Mark Kitchener (Shoalhaven Independents)
  • Cr Patricia White (Shoalhaven Independents)
  • Cr Greg Watson (Shoalhaven Independents)
  • Cr Nina Digiglio (Independent)
  • Cr Amanda Findley (Greens)

Candidates – Ward 1

  • A – Greens
    1. Tonia Gray
    2. Bradley Stanton
    3. Sarah Waddell
    4. Bonnie Greene
  • B – Shoalhaven Independents
    1. Cr John Wells
    2. Selena Clancy
    3. Tim Cochrane
    4. Phil Crocker
  • C – Independent
    1. Serena Copley
    2. Fred Campbell
    3. Leonard White
    4. Francoise Sikora
  • D – Labor
    1. Matthew Norris
    2. Cr Annette Alldrick
    3. Laurence Patton
    4. Olivia Alldrick
  • Ungrouped
    • Warren Jarrett (Independent)

Candidates – Ward 2

  • A – Greens
    1. Evan Christen
    2. Joanne Warren
    3. Cr Kaye Gartner
    4. Kim Stephenson
  • B – Shoalhaven Independents
    1. Cr Greg Watson
    2. Cr Mitchell Pakes
    3. Luciano Casmiri
    4. Graham Connolly
  • C – Labor
    1. John Kotlash
    2. Christine McInerney-Percy
    3. Jacob Khourey
    4. Deborah Shapira
  • D – Independent
    1. Paul Ell
    2. Fiona Cochrane
    3. Mikayla Barnes
    4. Jesse Martin

Candidates – Ward 3

  • A – Shoalhaven Independents
    1. Cr Mark Kitchener
    2. Cr Patricia White
    3. John Barclay
    4. Anthony Kent
  • B – Labor
    1. Liza Butler
    2. Gillian Boyd
    3. Carol Joyce
    4. Terrie Gardner
  • C – Greens
    1. Cr Amanda Findley
    2. Moo D’Ath
    3. Takesa Frank
    4. Debbie Killian

Become a Patron!


  1. I don’t see Gash recovering since she is unlikely to run again which means her party/coalition will get even less votes without her presence. Most of those votes should benefit SIG, Don’t be surprised if SIG gets a majority.

    As for this area this area hasn’t changed much. It may have a federal Labor MP but that is only because the Liberals shot themselves at the foot choosing Warren Mundine as their candidate. The Libs would have held on is Schulz had been retained and I expect the Liberals will re-gain the seat easily at the next election as I expect a landslide victory for the coalition (COVID and the fact Labor is extremely unpopular with Albanese) The polls are wrong, believe me!

    I still question why the Liberals don’t contest the council elections here, It would be fair to say most GASH supporters are Liberal supporters but there is no real way of knowing if this is true or not then again it would make sense for conservatives in this region to vote for SIG or GASH considering they are the only real alternatives.

    The Mayoralship? No clue, One would expect the Greens could get a surge considering she is the incumbent but with COVID and the left being not too popular at the moment this could be quite unpredictable. I would like to know who the candidates for mayor are before I can make a prediction for that election.

  2. Can anyone tell me whether there’s ever been an Indigenous person on Shoalhaven Council?

  3. The Greens Mayor is very popular from Berry in the north, to Ulladulla and further in the south. She will likely be re-elected as many in the southern areas affected by the bushfires saw her leadership with her being on the ground in the electorate.

    Labor will pick up seats, with the federal seat of Gilmore having a massive swing to Labor in the last federal election. Gash and her team are old news and people are tired of factional politics.

    Many of whom are running in ‘independent’ parties are members of the Liberal Party ie Leonard White and co. Voters are sick of being taken for fools in our area. ‘A Fresh Approach’ will play on the fact that Labor/Greens toe the party line, but the community doesn’t trust the independents and know that at least what you see with Labor/Greens is what you get ie their political affiliation is clear.

    Labor/Greens/Shoalhaven Community First will form a majority, with those three running young candidates which will appeal to many under the age of 50.

  4. Great Article & Stats – Thank you!
    Think about this & Remember this LG Elections on Sept 4th for Shoalhaven City Council that the only truly independent candidates are Shoalhaven Community First in Wards 1, 2 & 3. We are the only candidates that are NOT registered with any other major political party. We truly are for the Shoalhaven Community First & Andrew will be our Indigenous representation if elected.
    Cheers Jase.
    Make your vote count. #shoalhavencommunityfirst

  5. The current listing of Shoalhaven Independent candidates (at the end of candidate summary) appears to be incomplete and not updated from early plans. These appear likely to stand, and are campaigning:
    Ward 1 Clancy, Cochrane, Crocker, & Cr Wells (Col Waller was farewelled some months ago –
    Ward 2 Casmiri, Connolly, Cr Pakes, & Cr Watson
    Ward 3 Barclay, Kent, Cr Kitchener, Cr White (Patricia)
    There are also two non-grouped further candidates: Jarrett in Ward 1, and Krikstolaitis in Ward 2

  6. Tell Glenn Trowbridge that Ambrose Golden Brown was an indigenous elected councillor on Shoalhaven city council maybe twenty years ago.

  7. It was good to see a a traditional owner from from the shoalhaven running in the election Mr Connolly is a proud Jerrinja tribunal man. Good luck to all.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here