No change expected in Blue Mountains mayor and deputy mayor roles

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill and deputy mayor Chris Van der Kley are expected to be re-elected to the roles at the next council meeting on September 18.

The Labor mayor and Liberal deputy had the support of all five Labor councillors, at least two Liberal councillors, and Independent Shae Foenander when the Gazette made inquiries.

Former Liberal mayor, Ward 3 Cr Daniel Myles, said he was pleased to see the current team renominate.

“It’s the bipartisanship and stability of this council that has allowed the city to meet state government fit-for-the future requirements and, more importantly, continue to reduce the long standing infrastructure backlog for the people of the Blue Mountains,” he said.

Cr Foenander said she would support the mayor again as “he stood up for the community I represent during those horrible fires of 2013”.

“He raised millions of dollars through his mayoral fund to support those in recovery. He has opposed the airport at Badgerys Creek and he has fought against attempts to urbanise the Lower Blue Mountains.”

But the vote won’t be unanimous, with Greens Ward 1 Cr Kerry Brown saying she was looking for a “change in council leadership”.

“Since the last mayoral election, council senior management has completely changed, council has been put under a performance improvement order by the minister that includes a root and branch structural review – and it is in the grip of a public inquiry that has the powers of a royal commission,” she said.

“In these circumstances, I will be looking for a change in council leadership or at least in the mindset of that leadership. I will not vote for any candidate who continues to insist that the governing body has been cleared of all wrongdoing while voting to keep secret the publicly-funded investigation reports they say prove this.”

Cr Brown did not indicate if she would stand herself. 

The mayor responded by saying he elevated concerns about council’s asbestos management to councillors when he found out about the issue.

“The first inquiries were not launched by government. They were launched by me, when I brought mayoral minutes to the council seeking independent investigations into the matters raised,” he said.

The final of these reports cleared the elected body, among its findings.

The mayor said he would not be surprised if there was outside opposition to his re-election.

“In the time I have been in this job I have gained some powerful enemies on the right of politics,” he said.

“My stance against urban sprawl reaching the Mountains strikes a chord with those who share my view that this is a special place.

“As we come to review the local environment plan again soon, the developer interests would like nothing better than to get me out of the way.

“If there is outside opposition to me it won't come from the community that resoundingly elects me. It will come from those with a vested interest in undermining this council.”

The mayor said he would move that the mayor and deputy mayoral elections would be an open vote around council.

“I think it’s important for everyone to see who votes for whom.”