Steve Chadwick has been elected for a third term as mayor of the Rotorua district.
Progress results have Chadwick with 7796 votes ahead of Reynold Macpherson with 5837, Rob Kent 2330, and Dennis Curtis with 2181.
This result is based on the counting of approximately 95 per cent of the returned votes.
Chadwick said the result was an "enormous relief".
"I always take elections seriously and we worked really hard on this campaign. I knew there was a call for young people to get on and also a group that made their voices very clear about not liking where we're going," she said.
"So we take it seriously. We had a great campaign team who are supportive of carrying on. Today was affirming."
Chadwick said she thought the new council was a positive one.
"We hold the majority too and that's important. It's not a bloc, it's those that see we've got to keep this district moving."
Of her opposition Reynold Macpherson, who was elected as a councillor, Chadwick said she was looking forward to talking with him and other newly elected councillors.
"Macpherson's going to realise making balanced decisions is quite difficult and the mayor only gets one vote. He will learn a lot."
She said she wanted to keep Dave Donaldson as her deputy mayor.
"He's been a hard-working deputy. We enjoy working together."
Chadwick was first elected in 2013.
Before then Chadwick was in Parliament for 12 years, three as Rotorua's Labour MP.
Chadwick previously said she was proud of her achievements in the last six years and if re-elected would lead the development of a Housing Plan to address housing supply issues.
She said she would complete the big projects already under way including the restoration of the museum and Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre and redevelopment of the Lakefront, Kuirau Park and Whakarewarewa mountain bike and forest.
Chadwick also wanted to extend the "Summer Safety" campaign, a collaboration between the police and the council, and lead the Lakes cleanup programme.
She valued the Te Tatau o Te Arawa partnership.
At the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce mayoral debate she said the council could not deliver the 2030 projects with reduced rates but could put more tension on council-controlled organisations "to make sure that we are getting value for money".
Chadwick said partnerships were the key to reducing financial pressures on the council.
Residents and Ratepayers society mayoral candidate Reynold Macpherson announced the preliminary results to the group of about 30 supporters gathered to the Hennessy's function room in the central city.
Members responded with "oh bugger" and "boo" when he said it appeared he had lost out in the mayoral race, but there was a large round of applause in response when Macpherson said it appeared he had enough to be on the council at large.
He then proceeded to read the entire results list, including those who had not got on.
"What's the old rule? All politics ends in tears," he said.