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Candidates for the City of Sydney Council have issued their final pitches to voters ahead of this Saturday’s local government elections.

Seven candidates are running against incumbent Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP, who is facing her toughest challenge yet due to a raft of preference deals between her opponents.

Angela Vithoulkas, widely seen as Ms Moore’s main rival, said she and her Living Sydney party would ensure Sydney was a city of opportunity.

“Rules and revenue-raising have replaced creative innovation and it is time Sydney was once again a place of opportunity for both residents and businesses,” she said.

Labor’s Lord Mayoral candidate, Linda Scott pledged to promote Council employment and apprenticeships, protect working conditions, and hold a referendum to reinstate Council wards, if elected.

“Wards were abolished when the City of Sydney was amalgamated with South Sydney Council in 2004,” she said.

“You might live in Waterloo or Glebe but instead be represented by people who live in Potts Point or Paddington, who don’t really understand your community.”

The Liberals’ Edward Mandla said he represented redemption from Clover Moore’s “nutty schemes” like trigeneration, rainwater harvesting and “cycleways at the expense of car parking lanes”.

Greens candidate Irene Doutney said her main priority was forming precinct committees to give local residents a say in Council affairs.

“Precinct committees are where residents get to have a genuine say in the functions of Council,” she said. “It’s vital that residents have real input.”

A diverse range of issues was being promoted by the remaining challengers to Ms Moore.

Former Deputy Lord Mayor, Dixie Coulton said she was an antidote to a Council that “doesn’t listen to the people”; Denis Doherty from Housing Action for Sydney advocated a greater role for local government in the social housing sector; while Zahra Stardust from the Sex Party called for better protections for sex workers and more heroin injecting rooms.

Ms Moore remains the bookies’ favourite despite facing numerous preference deals, which will see Labor and Living Sydney trade preferences, the Liberals swap preferences with Ms Coulton, and the Greens and Housing Action for Sydney preferencing each other, among other arrangements.

Ms Moore said: “I don’t do preference deals, choosing instead to let voters decide for themselves.”

The Lord Mayor said she was “very proud” of her record and promised a continuation of “wonderful policies” if re-elected.

“I’m an independent, I’m about accountability, I’m about working with and for the community, and I’m about progressive solutions to tough inner-city problems,” she said.