Inner West Council elections 2021: Meet the candidates in Stanmore-Damun

Enmore Road in Enmore. Picture: Geoff Jones
Enmore Road in Enmore. Picture: Geoff Jones

It's a battle between progressives for the Stanmore (Damun) ward this term. And with two incumbent councillors stepping back there'll be at least two new faces among the representatives.

The Damun ward covers Enmore and Stanmore, most of Lewisham and Petersham, and the Inner West Council parts of Camperdown and Newtown. The area's population is just under 39,000.

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Key issues in the area include developing a pride centre at Newtown Town Hall, improving footpaths and cycleways, installing public toilets in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, increasing the local tree canopy and supporting small businesses.

There are three council spots up for grabs, currently filled by Anna York for Labor, Louise Steer for the Greens and Independent councilor Pauline Lockie. This year, councillors Steer and York are not running for council.

Meet the lead candidates running for the ward on December 4.

Pauline Lockie - Independent

Anti-WestConnex campaigner and current Deputy Mayor Pauline Lockie is the only incumbent councillor running again in the Damun ward and she "hasn't ruled out" running for mayor. Ms Lockie works for the City of Sydney and was first elected onto the Inner West Council in 2017.

Running mates:

Sandra Triulzi and Jason Mountney

Good to know:

Ms Lockie has lived in the inner west with her family for eight years. Less than two months after moving into their St Peters home, they learned it was one of 80 earmarked by the government for compulsory acquisition for WestConnex development. Since then, Ms Lockie has been a tireless campaigner against the project, including co-founding the WestCONnex Action Group.

She was elected Deputy Mayor in September of this year and describes herself as a progressive independent councillor who is passionate about "liveable cities, local democracy, equality and sustainable development". Her #RACISMNOTWELCOME campaign, developed alongside the Inner West Multicultural Network, has rolled out in councils across the state.

Stance on de-amalgamation:

Ms Lockie voted in favour of the motion which saw the question of de-amalgamation being put to the public in a poll. She thinks residents should be allowed to have a "real say" on the issue and council should chart a path forward depending on the result of the non-binding poll.

Why she's running:

Ms Lockie said although the last term on council has been "challenging" she is running again because it has been "really wonderful" to be able support the community and "get some really great things done at a local level".

"I did think long and hard about it because it's been a quite tumultuous term on council but I think we've started to see some positive change over the last few months. I want to be a part of making sure that positive change can continue," she says.

"Local government is the level of government where you can really feel the impact of the decisions you make and the services that are delivered every day and see the positive impacts on peoples' lives. It's enough to make me want to hang in there".

Priorities:

Improving the quality of council services, supporting local businesses and creative industries, investing in parks, playgrounds, cycleways and public spaces and fixing "destructive" tree removal policies are all priorities for Ms Lockie in the next term of council.

She also has her sights set on some bigger picture issues as well including supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, fighting against racism and continuing to fight for the community to get the best outcomes from WestConnex. She says speaking out on these issues is important because the local government has "a bigger voice than individual residents do".

"I'm not shy of taking action on bigger picture issues, especially when it comes to matters such as diversity or transport, but I always take a local focus when doing so," she says.

Another priority for Ms Lockie, as an independent, is ensuring council culture is harmonious and council can "work together to make decisions which are in the best interests of the community".

"I hope we can put a lot of the infighting and misconduct which hasn't served our community well behind us, and really look to ways that we can work together as councillors are supposed to do. It's not meant to be like a state or federal government where you've got major parties at war with each other," she says.

Liz Atkins - Greens

The lead candidate on the Greens ticket for Stanmore is Liz Atkins, who worked in the federal public service for 33 years, ending up as the deputy CEO at the anti-money laundering agency.

Running mates:

Rob Shield and Alex van Vucht

Good to know:

Ms Atkins has lived in the inner west for more than 20 years and in the Damun ward for the past 16 years, she's brought up two sons in the community. She has been an active campaigner and volunteer in the LGBTQIA+ community for over two decades.

In 2013 Ms Atkins was awarded the Public Service Medal for her work in anti-money laundering policy and legislative development. She says experience in this field gives her the ability to understand and negotiate between the needs of the corporate world, law, government and everyday citizens.

"Over the years I've worked on a whole range of policy issues with ministers from both Labor and coalition governments," she says.

Stance on de-amalgamation:

Like the other Greens candidates for council, Ms Atkins supports de-amalgamation and wants to see the "local" brought back to local council.

"We've got fewer councillors who actually understand the particular wards and I think that's sometimes why people feel a bit disconnected from council's decisions," she says.

"If the vote is yes, there are still steps to be taken and it's still down the track. It's not going to happen quickly and it won't happen within the next term of council. So whether it's a yes vote and we're waiting to see what happens, or it's a no vote, I am ready to get in there and make this council work".

Why she's running:

Ms Atkins sees serving on council as a continuation of her public service. She says bringing her experience in running an organisation, developing policy and managing a budget to council would be a way to "give back to the community".

"Council is the level of government where you can really make a difference. The processes in state and federal government are quite slow, I've been a part of all that and I wouldn't want to be a state or federal politician," she says.

"But council to me is grassroots, it's talking to the community and getting what they want happening. I don't think people want people bringing party politics into the council chamber. They want councillors who want to work together."

Priorities:

Ms Atkins says the three main issues which have been brought to her by the community are climate change, improving the quality of council services ("roads, rates and rubbish") and "having an affordable place to live, close to where they work".

She says one issue council can deal with "very quickly" at the start of next term is the "destruction of the tree canopy" in the area and maintaining the tree planting budget.

"We need to change that tree management development control plan, not necessarily reverse it completely and put it back where it was, but to take a more balanced approach," she says.

Also on her radar are affordable housing, accessible and safe public toilets and "making it easier to get around on foot and by bike".

"That'll have climate effects, as it'll get cars off the road, but it's also about better maintenance of our footpaths. People who aren't as steady on their feet would find our footpaths difficult," she says.

Chloe Smith - Labor

Chloe Smith, who currently works as a strategy advisor in the NSW parliament. Before landing a job in parliament, Ms Smith worked for the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union as a project coordinator where she was part of a team which established the Hunter Jobs Alliance.

Running mates:

Sarah Hunt and Jemima Tilly

Good to know:

At just 27 years old, Chloe Smith is the youngest candidate running for council. She is a life-long resident of the inner west, currently renting a home with her partner in Newtown. Growing up, she attended local public schools and played in the Ashbury Netball Club.

Stance on de-amalgamation:

Ms Smith supports the community having their say on a demerger but thinks a bigger council can deliver bigger infrastructure projects for residents, like the Ashfield Aquatic Centre. She says the community haven't raised demerging as a priority with her and she has "some concerns" about the costs associated with the process.

"Ultimately it's a decision for the NSW Liberal Government who have said they will not support de-amalgamations nor pay the costs. I'm focused on making sure the Council works for residents," she says.

"I believe that we can improve the Inner West Council through good local representation, innovation, and better resourcing, not re-litigating amalgamation".

Why she's running:

Ms Smith says she wants the inner west to be "a great and affordable place to live for everyone" and thinks representation of young renters on council is important to "make sure council reflects the make-up and diversity of experiences of our community".

"I love where we live and I believe we need new progressive voices to make sure our council is working for everyone," she says.

"Representation on our council shouldn't be taken for granted and our councillors should be focused on the issues which really matter and on achieving real outcomes for people".

Priorities:

Climate change, sustainable development and affordable housing for key workers are all among Ms Smith's priorities, should she be elected onto council. But as well as these big picture issues, she wants to "make sure our council gets the basics right".

"This means maintaining critical infrastructure like roads, footpaths, and cycleways, upgrading our parks and public toilets, revitalising our high streets, managing our waste collection," she says.

She said local residents are concerned about maintenance issues with cycleways and footpaths and want to see a more coherent active transport network across the ward.

"We should be encouraging more people to take up active transport options to get around our suburbs, which means increasing maintenance, improving safety with separated cycle lanes and more lighting, connecting bike paths and completing the Greenway to provide more routes and cycling networks."

Helping local businesses recover following the pandemic is another priority for Ms Smith. She wants to see council take up creative measures to drive foot traffic back to precincts like Audley Street in Petersham and Percival and Salisbury Roads in Stanmore.

"Council can make it easier for hospitality venues to expand outdoor dining to footpaths, carparks, and side streets, facilitate more live performances by local musicians, provide creative space for local artists, and beautify our main streets with public art and tree planting."

Pip Hinman - Socialist Alliance

Pip Hinman, an activist and community campaigner who volunteers as a journalist for GreenLeft, is running in the Damun ward for the Socialist Alliance.

Running mates:

Markela Panegyres and Steffi Leedham

Good to know:

Ms Hinman lives in Newtown where she has raised two kids. A keen activist, Ms Hinman has campaigned for women's rights and against climate change and was a founding member of Sydney Stop the War Coalition in 2003. She was also part of a campaign in 2010 which stopped a coal seam gas drilling project slated for the Sydney Park site in St Peters

Stance on de-amalgamation:

Ms Hinman is a supporter of de-amalgamation. She was part of a residents' campaign in 2016 opposing the merger before it happened, and is now an active part of the de-amalgamation campaign, Residents for De-amalgamation.

"Five years down the track, we can see what's happened. The experiment's been there for us to see services are going down, rates have gone up, there's been instability on council, and developers seem to be getting more power," she says.

"It's not a nostalgic thing, it's about bringing back local democracy and empowering communities. I'm very interested in people having a say and being involved in creating, at a local level, a place they feel comfortable living."

Why she's running:

Ms Hinman's involvement in social justice activism and her passion for the community she calls home inspired her to stand for council.

"I have quite considerable roots here and I feel very strongly that residents are being denied the opportunity to have their say and the merger of the three councils has made it even harder for people to have input into a range of things from bicycle pathways to local developments."

Priorities:

Locally, Ms Hinman opposes privatisation of public parks and wants to see rates dropped for pensioners, residents given more say over development, more council-run childcare and better infrastructure for active transport.

She said cars shouldn't be displaced entirely, but council should put in more traffic calming measures, install permanent cycleways and better maintain footpaths to "encourage and make active transport safer".

A passionate advocate for the environment, Ms Hinman thinks council can also get residents more involved in initiatives like creating verge gardens to green the streets.

"How can we get residents more actively involved in planting trees, for instance? I think there'd be a lot of willingness to do something like that in the community."

As well as local issues, Ms Hinman thinks councils should play a role in pushing back against state and federal government policies, and even global issues, which impact the local community.

"Just because you care about what's happening at a local level doesn't mean you switch off. In many ways a lot of the local amenity issues are the result of state governments forcing cuts on councils. And I think smaller councils with more resident involvement will be in a better position to fight the state government," she says.

"I do think councils can play a big role in informing communities about the global picture as well, I don't see a distinction between worrying about parks and roads and worrying about signing up to nuclear ship deals."

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