Occupation: Business owner
Affiliation: Running on a ticket with Rina Mercuri
Standing for: Councillor and mayor
You’re viewed by many as the head of a faction of four. Do you accept that factionalism exists in council and has been a negative influence both in terms of open government and community perception?
There are no factions in council at all. What we seem to have is four councillors who have similar views and ideologies in terms of how they see local government and seven other councillors who feel differently. Whenever there is a resolution before council, those seven always vote the same whether it’s for the good of the community or not. It just seems strange that they vote together.
You’ve been accused of political grandstanding during your time as mayor and most recently in relation to your objection to the sale of the Railway Street block. How do you react to accusations of being a populist?
I dispute that, I don’t always take the popular opinion. The Railway Street issue is one I have strongly opposed and it’s been documented over a long period in council. I’ve maintained the belief it should be community land and not disposed of lightly.
You’ve now been on council for 25 years – a quarter of a century. Do you still truly believe you have the energy and ideas to be taking the position of a younger, newer candidate?
Let me put it this way, in the last term alone I put up more than four proposals to council and they have been proposals engineered by myself and they’ve all been adopted by council. I seriously question some of the other councillors who have not even put up one. The proposals I’ve successfully put up include the establishment of the dams committee, a $20,000 grant for the Men’s Shed, Christmas decorations for Banna Avenue and drinking bubblers for Banna Avenue. I have a strong record of initiating ideas and pursuing issues and I’d challenge any councillor to match that.
You’ve been leading the charge for mayor Mike Neville to stand down from council while his charges are pending. Bearing in mind his strong record of community service over many years, why shouldn’t he be afforded a presumption of innocence?
This has nothing to do with innocence or guilt – it’s about public perception. And it’s a view that has been expressed to me many times by the community. He should step down.
On paper, you are one of the most qualified candidates for mayor. What direction will you take the city if elected to the top job?
If I’m fortunate enough to be elected to lead this wonderful city, I will pursue all the projects currently on the books – the private hospital, the terminal relocation, a push for CSU to create a bigger presence in the city and, most importantly, more water storages for the region and NSW. I will play an independent role as mayor and protect free debate, not take sides. The popularly elected mayor has a wonderful advantage of being able to focus on doing good for the community, rather than pandering to sides.