The acrimony and bitterness that is Wanganui local politics continues.

The town will no longer be ruled by Michael Laws - but he will still have his finger firmly on the pulse as a councillor. And he has indicated he does not intend to make life easy for his successor.

Amid controversy around the letter "h" in Whanganui, his ban on gangs insignia, the messy break-up of his relationship and then establishing a new one with a former prostitute, Laws did not stand for the Wanganui mayoralty this time round.

Replacing Laws is Annette Main, Wanganui's first female mayor. She beat Laws' deputy, Dot McKinnon.

Laws' former partner Leonie Brookhammer failed in her bid for a council seat. Laws, who was looking after his children last night, said he would not miss being mayor, but added he would bring his "extraordinary ability and experience" to the table as a councillor.

He had not contacted Main about the result: "[It is] her job to ring me. She's the mayor-elect, albeit without a mandate, with just over a third of people voting for her.

"She has a big task ahead of her given the number of votes supporting other candidates."

Laws said Main's election would "assure a very interesting next three years".

"Nevertheless I will congratulate her and pledge my fullest cooperation in making the best decisions for the wider Wanganui community."

Main spent yesterday morning manning her stall at the Whanganui River Traders Market, but work turned to celebration after she heard the result.

Main believed her win signalled a new era in Wanganui.

"People wanted a different style, a more inclusive style. That's the message that came through to us," she said. "The challenge now is to deliver and really make Wanganui people feel included."

McKinnon is now in the political wilderness. She did not stand for council, and sold her business to campaign.