The Queanbeyan-Palerang election count will continue on Sunday with former mayor Tim Overall leading the tally.
Late Saturday evening, more than 50 per cent of first-preference votes were counted.
Mr Overall looked set to be elected for a third consecutive term on council. Surrounded by family, friends and volunteers, he said he was hoping for another successful election in his political career.
He has been the state-appointed administrator since the merger, making decisions in place of the community-elected council.
Following the forced amalgamation of the Queanbeyan and Palerang councils in May last year, it will be the first time democratically elected representatives take a seat for the combined regions.
The first votes trickled through from about 7pm on Saturday following the close of polls an hour earlier.
Mr Overall described the mood among his family and friends as "quiet elation".
"We're quietly confident that we'll have a new council that will be in position to stay the course and deliver over the next three years in line with the community's aspirations," Mr Overall said.
He said with the results as they were, "it would seem there could be around three to four councillors from the former Palerang council potentially elected, which would be a good thing".
Former Queanbeyan councillor and Labor candidate Brian Brown said regardless of the day's results, the new body would be democratically elected.
"The important thing about today is that democracy has returned to Queanbeyan," he said on Saturday.
"We've had 18 months of one person's way or the highway, now we're going to have a council duly elected by the regional community."
Running as an independent, Kenrick Winchester, also a former Queanbeyan councillor, said he was hoping preferences would flow his way in the coming days to have the number two on his ticket, Kevin Butt, elected as well as himself.
"Based on what we've seen, I'd be disappointed if we didn't get there," he said on Saturday night.
According to the NSW Electoral Commission, 40,665 enrolled to vote in the 2017 Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council election.
About 20,500 votes had been counted by late on Saturday.
The final election result is likely to be known later in the week, after the final results are tallied and pre-poll and postal votes are counted.
NSW Electoral Commission spokesman Richard Carroll said pre-poll and postal votes could dramatically change the result of the election, and Saturday night's results should not be taken for granted.
Mr Carroll said the votes would continue to be counted on Sunday and into next week.