LOCAL POLITICS | DI BARTOK
LIBERAL councillor Steven Issa has been elected Lord Mayor of Parramatta, despite the looming local government elections on December 4.
He will take over from Bob Dwyer, who has been Lord Mayor for the past two years and had hoped to carry on with the job until the general election.
And that had been the plan until Cr Dwyer ruffled feathers among his Liberal Party colleagues with his outspoken views of councillor behaviour in the chamber and factional fighting in the local branches.
Still, Cr Dwyer accepted his fate with good grace on Monday night when Cr Issa was elected into the chair.
Cr Dwyer was joined by his fellow Liberals Bill Tyrell, Andrew Jefferies, Martin Zaiter, Ben Barack, Independents Lorraine Wearne and Andrew Wilson and Our Local Community’s Michelle Garrard in putting Cr Issa into the chair.
Cr Garrard was re-elected deputy Lord Mayor.
Labor’s Pierre Esber was up against Cr Issa, supported by his team of Donna Davis, Patricia Prociv and Sameer Pandey and Greens Phil Bradley.
It was pretty much a done deal, but Cr Dwyer praised Cr Issa as “a very competent professional and very skilled individual” with a “strong knowledge of planning matters”.
“He could achieve something quickly”
Cr Wearne, while acknowledging that she and Cr Issa did not always see eye to eye on development in Parramatta, felt that Cr Issa could “achieve something quickly” for Parramatta in the remaining term of council.
Praise came from the Labor side, though Cr Davis promised that there would still be a “challenging opposition”.
Cr Esber, in congratulating Cr Issa, reminded the new Lord Mayor that Parramatta consisted of 28 suburbs as well as the CBD.
Cr Issa said he was humbled to be elected to the top job, leading “the best city in the world”.
As son of former Lord Mayor Tony Issa, Cr Issa grew up with a deep interest in Parramatta.
“My family has a deep connection with this city,” he said, adding that his proud father was watching the night’s events.
“My father has been my role model and mentor.”
Cr Issa, who will take leave from his public service job to be a full-time Lord Mayor, praised his wife Jasmine for her support, which will continue as Lady Mayoress.
“A strong Parramatta means a stronger Sydney and a stronger Western Sydney,” the new Lord Mayor said.
Earlier, councillors praised Cr Dwyer for his work in leading Parramatta over the past two years, especially with the challenges presented by the pandemic..
Cr Dwyer said he could not have done it without the support and guidance of council executive staff, led by CEO Brett Newman, and fellow councillors, particularly deputy Michelle Garrard.
Cr Dwyer will not contest the December 4 election. He has told the Parramatta Times that it was time for him to step down to enjoy family time, but he would still be an advocate for residents of Winston Hills, where he lives with wife Jenny.
In an earlier interview, Cr Dwyer said he was immensely proud of what had been achieved in Parramatta under his leadership.
“I’m immensely proud of Parramatta Square and what it took for council to achieve that, with all the buildings we needed to acquire,” Cr Dwyer said in that interview.
“I have seen the start of the new pool, the light rail, Powerhouse and Metro West. Exciting times ahead. With all the media focus on Parramatta, I believe I have raised the profile of the lord mayor. I’ve certainly learned a lot. I was a novice in media matters before becoming lord mayor.”
Bob Dwyer was first elected to council in the then-Caroline Chisolm Ward as an Independent in 1995.
Losing the 1999 election, he returned to council in 2012, as a Liberal councillor, having had a brief time with the Labor Party before 2005.
Cr Dwyer, 70, will return to his migration business but will also dedicate more time to family after December.
Image: Steven Issa has been elected Lord Mayor of Parramatta.