Mayoral Election

Congratulations to Councillor Jeff Pettett and Councillor Barbara Ward for being elected as the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Ku-ring-gai respectively. I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with both over the last four years and I know that they will do their best to represent the interests of the residents of Ku-ring-gai.

Elected Council Confirmed

Elected Council was confirmed just moments ago.

Comenarra Ward – Jeff Pettett, Greg Taylor

Gordon Ward – Barbara Ward, Simon Lennon

Roseville Ward – Sam Ngai, Alec Taylor

St Ives Ward – Martin Smith, Christine Kay

Wahroonga Ward – Kim Wheatley, Cedric Spencer

Positions such as Mayor, committee memberships, etc will be determined on 11th January.

Reflections on Transparency

It’s been a month since the HKPost Town Hall event which I personally found to be the most enjoyable night of the month-long campaign. The candidates had a good time sharing their views on policy without the usual nastiness of debate from the previous council term.

Interestingly, although just over a third of the lead candidates accepted the invite to attend, a much higher proportion of two thirds of those who did attend will end up on council. It might say something about the people’s preference of choosing candidates who are approachable and transparent. Thanks to the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Post for organising this enjoyable and informative evening, it plays an important role in keeping our residents informed of the candidates and issues.

Thank You

I’d like to thank the residents of Roseville Ward for asking me to serve them as a councillor for a second term. The election result was quite a surprise and it goes to show that if incumbent councillors do their job of listening to and representing their residents, they will be recognised for it.

It was an incredibly hectic three weeks and this election campaign would not have been possible without the support of volunteers. We appreciate all of you who were willing to dedicate time to the cause, whether it be an hour or a few dozen hours, and I will be coming to thank each of you personally in the weeks to come.

The full election result is not yet known, with ballots still being counted and some postals still coming in til 17th December. We actually won’t know who the ten councillors are until the week commencing 20th December which is when the preferences are distributed. Until then, we can only be certain about one councillor for each ward so I would like to congratulate Barbara Ward (Gordon), Martin Smith (St Ives), Kim Wheatley (Wahroonga), and Jeff Pettett (Comenarra) for getting elected. Each of us have been elected on a particular platform or set of objectives, and I look forward to working with you to see if we can deliver on these in a collegiate manner.

Focussing on Roseville Ward, we do not yet know who the other councillor will be. It will most likely be Alec Taylor, with Amanda Blackman being a possibility and a remote chance for Jennifer Anderson. It will really depend on the distribution of preferences in two weeks’ time. Each of these candidates have worked hard to seek election and I look forward to working with the one that gets elected.

I would also like to thank Amanda Blackman and Mitchell Frater-Baird for being such amazing running mates. I do genuinely believe that we are stronger together as a team and look forward to seeking your input to policies and motions over the next three years.

As a Christian, I would also like to thank God for the election result. As some of you know, last decade I was actually training to become an Anglican Church minister and serving the local community through the church. I never really expected to become a politician, but had at the spur of the moment in 2017 wondered whether my commercial skills could be applied to serving the community in a different way as a councillor. My Christian values guide my approach; I strive to serve with integrity and there is a stronger emphasis on seeking the interests of others than on promoting myself.

Finally I’d like to thank my wife Kathryn and our kids for putting up with this election campaign. It’s been a tough few months with all the dramas at council followed by an election, and Kathryn has had to juggle a lot in my absence.

It will be very interesting to see what the future council of ten looks likes. Each councillor will have been elected on their own platform and our challenge is to, where possible, assist each councillor in delivering on this. From the election result and from speaking to residents, I think it’s also clear that many residents aren’t interested in dysfunction and instead want a council that focuses on delivery of outcomes. But I don’t think it will be possible for us to hit the ground running on all outcomes; at least half of the council will be new councillors and it will take some time for them to settle in and become familiar with local government concepts and organisational culture.

As usual, if you have any queries as residents then feel free to contact us and we will do what we can to help you.

Comments re: Candidate Independence

I am writing on this topic as there have been unhelpful and inaccurate rumours in other parts of social media, comments which I am concerned may have the effect of misinforming residents.

In this election there are several candidates who are members of the Liberal Party who are running as Independents. What does this mean? Can you possibly be Independent and a member of the Liberal Party at the same time?

Well yes, you can. The NSW Electoral Commission’s own handbook for candidates defines Independents as “𝘈 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺.”

In Ku-ring-gai, Willoughby, and many other LGA’s across NSW the Liberal Party chooses not to endorse (i.e. get behind or support) candidates and these party members are left on their own to run on their own platform, own convictions, own beliefs and policies, and with their own money.

In my particular case I fund my own campaign, we come up with our own policies and values, and we recruit our own volunteers. The election campaign is about our team and our policies, not about some political party that doesn’t endorse or provide support. Nobody tells us how to vote.

Political party membership is available for all to see on the Electoral Commission website. No candidates are ‘hiding’ it, and personally I am just waiting til next week to show the link to the Electoral Commission website because there’s an upgrade on the 22nd that will make it much more informative for users, and I like to do things once really well, not twice ineffectively.

But ultimately when it comes to policy alignment, values, etc. we all make our own decisions and have complete freedom to act how we want.

Therefore I believe the term Independent is entirely appropriate.

And I have certainly enjoyed the Independence in the last four years. Just to give some examples.

1) Though the current council has six out of ten councillors as Liberal Party members, they are often in disagreement. 3 vs 3. 4 vs 2. 5 vs. 1. When it’s 5 vs. 1 I’m often the independent lone wolf.

2) In July 2019 Council Staff proposed that the Lindfield Village Hub should be 14 storeys tall, to which I disagreed because I believed that it would set a dangerous precedent in Lindfield. I received pressure from other councillors including the former mayor to support 14 storeys, and if I had caved into her pressure we would be seeing 14 storeys in Lindfield right now. But I was happy to go against the Liberal then-mayor as I am an Independent and can vote however I want.

3) In May 2021 I proposed that council investigate the heritage value of the Roseville Chase and Gordon Bowling Green sites (and it was defeated). This didn’t have the support of other Liberal Party councillors but I wasn’t bothered as I am an Independent and so are they.

4) In the upcoming Roseville Ward elections, three of the four groups have Liberal Party members as lead candidates, but in our group’s view (and therefore in our preferencing), the most appropriate second group is non-party aligned. We do our preferences based on our own values, alignment and competency, not based on party membership. We are independents.

5) To me, party membership is actually quite meaningless because there is such a diverse range of people within the party. I know Liberal Party members who are full-on Trump. I also know Liberal Party members who effectively behave like they are in the Greens. I’m personally a bit of a strange mix of everything, I believe that the Government should take more proactive action to decelerate the effects of climate change and that we need to show more compassion to those in need (especially refugees), but I also have particular convictions based on my religious beliefs.

At every election, there will be those who go around saying this person and that person isn’t an ‘Independent’ because of party membership. But I strongly disagree with them because of all the reasons above (including the Electoral Commission’s definition). Furthermore it is genuinely frustrating that they apply this criticism to a select few candidates rather than all candidates with party membership. The constant cherry-picking of information, and deliberate and selective framing of information to cast candidates in poor light, unfortunately has had the effect of misinforming some residents, and I have had to correct misunderstandings on several occasions. But for every one person who is misinformed and who raises their concerns with me, I’m sure there are several who are misinformed and remain that way. This behaviour does not align with my values and I cannot endorse it.

In other news, Ku-ring-gai Living recently reached out to ALL candidates and asked them to fill a survey, including disclosure of party membership. Some candidates chose to respond, and their answers are found in the link below.

Introducing Our Team

It’s a pleasure to announce our team for the 4 December Ku-ring-gai Council Roseville Ward election. We are a diverse group of three well qualified candidates and each of us are long-term residents who genuinely care about the impact that councillors have on our community and way of life. We will be presenting to you our policies in the coming weeks and are ready to serve if elected.

Candidate #1 – Deputy Mayor Sam Ngai, first term councillor, senior corporate roles with a focus on process improvement. Local resident since 1987, now residing in East Lindfield with wife and two young children.

Candidate #2 – Amanda Blackman, local business owner and solicitor, Lindfield resident since 1994, actively involved in the community, and mother of two adult children.

Candidate #3 – Mitchell Frater-Baird, recipient of the Rotary Youth Leadership Award in 2020 and passionate about developing community and sporting programmes.

Our campaign is self-funded so that we can stay true to our own values. Having said that if you read our policies and would like to support the cause by helping out in the coming weeks, then please reach out.