SHELLHARBOUR councillors have vowed to work together, despite the fractured relationship between two members.
However, a third councillor fears the council could revert to the "bad old days" of the sacked 2008 council.
Last Tuesday night's meeting heralded a new dynamic for Shellharbour City's elected representatives.
It was the first meeting after Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin's decision to quit the Liberal Party rather than serve a party suspension for breaking a signed agreement with head office to support fellow Liberal Kellie Marsh in the recent mayoral vote.
Cr Rankin will serve out the remaining three years of his term as an independent, leaving Shellharbour with three Labor councillors, three independents and one Liberal.
Independent councillor Peter Moran believed Cr Rankin "showed his true colours" last Tuesday night.
"He might be an independent in name only, but indicated he'd support the Labor Party [by the way he voted]," Cr Moran said.
"We seem to be seeing a situation developing where personalities are more important than principles or policies.
"Given that it appears that Labor will now have the numbers to do whatever they want . . . there is a real risk we could fall back into that [the former dysfunctional council].
"That's up to the way Paul chooses to act from now on."
Cr Marsh said she would "work with anybody . . . for the benefit of the community".
"The relationship with Cr Rankin and I, it's obviously been fractured," she said.
"But I only hear through third parties or media what his issues are, because he's never been face-to-face and confronted me."
Independent Helen Stewart was the only member of the sacked council re-elected in 2011. She said the council was looking at the bigger picture and worked as a team.
"Rifts between Cr Rankin and Cr Marsh are very deep and wide, and I don't think they can repair it," she said.
"At times, I just think Cr Rankin and Cr Marsh's inexperience has come to the forefront.
"Let's hope they can learn from mistakes and move on."
Cr Rankin described his first meeting as an independent as feeling "good, but it's all about the job".
"I'm just going to do what the community want and try and vote in their best interests.
"I don't think it'll affect anything until September next year [during mayoral elections] rolls around.
"If she [Cr Marsh] brings a good motion to the floor I'll support it, but apart from that there's no relationship there."
Mayor Marianne Saliba didn't believe the new make-up would affect the council's co-operative approach.
"I think that you've got to admire the fact that he [Cr Rankin] stands up for what he believes is right, and he's not going to be told by others how he should vote, or what he should do.
"We currently work co-operatively and I think that we'll continue to vote on issues, not on party politics."