BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS
When one election closes, another opens. Or so it should seem for residents in the City of Sydney who be experiencing political decision-making fatigue. But the rate of change for residents in this election will be dizzying. As one commentator told City Hub, “we’re in for a bumpy ride.”
But there is significant movement among the councillors, especially in the Clover Moore’s Independents Party.
CLOVER MOORE’S INDEPENDENTS
Incumbent Lord Mayor Clover Moore is standing for her fourth term in office at the upcoming City of Sydney elections which will be held in September.
At the very least, she will be looking to field candidates for three out of four councillor spots.
Despite this being Ms Moore’s fourth term in office, it will be with a team that is significantly different from her original party members in 2004.
Robyn Kemmis died in January. John Mant will not be contesting this election. Potts Point resident Jenny Green will not be contesting either, telling constituents “the battles continue with WestConnex and the Waterloo to Eveleigh precinct development,” in a parting email to voters.
She had previously complained to the media that the council work did not pay sufficiently – and suggested City of Sydney councillors should be given a wage like that of state MPs.
A staff member at the office of Robert Kok’s office did not confirm or deny whether he would be standing. The staff member said they did not had any official information yet.
With the introduction of the business vote, the Liberal Party could be tipped to get more than its current two councillors into City Hall. Currently Christine Forster and Edward Mandla are the incumbents. Forster has been endorsed as the Liberal Party’s Mayoral candidate for council.
“Clover Moore has been there for twelve years and it is time for fresh approach,” Clr Forster told City Hub.
“People want the City to be liveable, they want it to be vibrant, it’s not humming the way it should be.”
The Liberal Party ticket has been heated as the Party, rather than local branches, select the candidates.
Known possibilities for the number two position on the Liberal Party ticket include incumbent Edward Mandla, Potts Point local Adrian Bartels and Sean O’Conner.
Mr Bartels owns a Potts Point based property finance company. Mr O’Connor works in marketing.
While Forster has been preselected on the mayoral ticket, preselection for the remainder of the ticket won’t be done until the end of July.
While some had speculated that the Liberal Party could increase their presence at City Hall because of the introduction of the business vote, Councillor Mandla told City Hub that he was less certain.
“It might have no impact. I think we are in the land of the unknown—it is ridiculous that every business will be voting Liberal –they are going to be voting in all sorts of ways,” he told City Hub. “I see myself as representing the business vote—I am on a lot of boards, I’m a businessman, if I get preselected, I will be representing business interests.”
The days of Labor dominance on the council are well and truly gone. Labor now has only one candidate in council –Linda Scott – who was preselected following the first community consultation preselection in 2012. A member of the Labor left, Clr Scott has championed affordable housing during her first term in council.
Friends of Erskineville President Darren Jenkins and NSW Nurses and Midwives Association organiser Holly Rebeiro will be vying for a spot on the Labor ticket.
It is unclear whether or not a community preselection process would take place again this year. The Party had not released a plan for preselection and did not reply to City Hub’s requests for comment.
At the other end of the political spectrum lay The Greens. They selected two candidates months ago, following consultation with two local groups – The Inner City Greens and the South Sydney Greens. Irene Doutney is not contesting, whilst De Brierley Newtown and Lindsay Jonshton are.
Mr Johnston has had a 40 year career in farming and food industry research and development. He has operated his business from premises he owns in the CBD for the last twelve years.
Ms Brierley Newton is from Glebe and is an organiser within The Greens providing guidance and support for grassroots campaigning. She was a prominent figure in the NSW 2015 state election campaign.
Mr Johnston told City Hub he has been involved with The Greens since 2011 and have twice served terms as the secretary of Inner Sydney Greens.
“Over the years I have been a member of a local brigade in the Rural Fire Service and served in various business and community associations and as a proud member of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.”
He took aim at Christine Foster in a statement on Tuesday.
“The cynicism of the Liberals at this local level is breathtaking. Here we have Tony Abbott coming out – and I use that phrase with tongue firmly in cheek – in support of his sister, a member of the rainbow community, while he and the Liberal party remain opposed to marriage equality. The Greens not only support marriage equality, we have a policy to deliver it.” said Lindsay Johnston.
There will be lots of independents running in the council election.
They could take a leaf out of the book of successful councillor and café owner Angela Vithoulkas. She has been described as a “dark horse” and is running again. This time she has a number two on her ticket — Grace Zou who has been described as “a community advocate, small business owner and a long-time champion for local Government within the Chinese community.”
Prominent local David Imrie, CEO of the NSW branch of non-government organisation Keep Australia beautiful cancelled his membership of the Liberal Party to run as an independent in the Spetember elections.
“As an Independent, I will always support good policy, whether it comes from the Libs, Labor, Greens or the Clover Party. What I won’t support or condone is petty politics at the expense of good policy,” Mr Imrie posted to Facebook. He was chair of the board of New Mardi Gras.
Prominent Potts Point local and president of the suburb’s heritage and Conservation society, Andrew Woodhouse, would not confirm nor deny if he would be running as an Independent. It will not be for Clover Moore’s party.
“One member of her party asked me if I would run, and I said yes I would — back to the office.” Mr Woodhouse gave some advice however to Clr Moore—that was to recruit younger people into her Party.
“She should be looking for younger people to get with the general populace. You don’t want your grandma in charge, you want someone who you can relate to and can respond to a text message.”