By Vanessa Lim
Waverley Council and Randwick Councils elected new Mayors last week, both of whom will run for a 12-month period. On September 24, Randwick Council voted in Labor Councillor Danny Said as the new Mayor and Greens Councillor Philipa Veitch as the Deputy Mayor. On September 26, Waverley Council chose Labor Councillor Paula Masselos as Mayor and Greens Councillor Eliane Keenan as Deputy Mayor.
Mayor Paula Masselos, the 6th woman to be Mayor of Waverley council in 70 years, has worked on multiple community projects throughout the years. Mayor Masselos has been living in Bronte for almost 35 years and believed that the community was of utmost importance.
“A lot of people were urging me to be more involved in the council since I was doing a lot of community action.” Mayor Masselos has fought against over-development, such as 194 Oxford St, making sure the Tamarama Waterfall wasn’t destroyed, and has also worked with councillors to save the historic Boot Factory that will now be repurposed instead of destroyed.
She was also supportive of the past Mayor and Deputy Mayor efforts to save the Bondi Pavillion and make Waverley Council more progressive. In front of Bronte Beach, the local community can visit ‘Paula’s Hut’ in the mornings on the weekends.
“For me, local councils have a very strong democratic institution,” she said. “It’s probably one of the purest forms of democracy because we’re here. People can stop and talk to us straight away, so we’re held far more accountable than the other levels of government because we’re so much more accessible.”
Mayor Masselos said that being part of a local council meant she could make decisions that had a quicker reaction time than the other levels of government.
“Also, as a resident, it’s about making sure the resident’s voice is heard, particularly in a place like this where it’s drawing a lot of tourists. It can be too often that the commercial interests or the tourism industry interests get heard and are given credence other the residents.”
She saw the role as a great privilege and looked forward to making progressive changes with Deputy Mayor Elaine Keenan. Mayor Masselos said, “I’m looking forward to working with Elaine who has got a very similar vision to mine. My politics are certainly progressive and I have to say, the older I get, the more progressive I become. Partly because of the kind of community we’re in.”
Deputy Mayor Elaine Keenan has lived in Waverley for more than 30 years and is an active community member. She said positive changes to Waverley was her main motivator for getting into local politics.
“Since I’ve been living in this area for a long time, the local Liberal government that was in place at the time made some decisions that I found really unpalatable. So, I started to get more involved in my local group and I must say that I didn’t expect to be on the council. I think that we can make a difference and we’ve got similar views such as climate change, affordable housing, needed amenities and other community-based projects.”
Coming from a working-class background in Glasgow, Cllr Keenan said she had a “strong sense of social justice and a willingness to help”. Cllr Keenan comes from a nursing background where she worked in areas such as HIV/AIDs and Community Health. At the moment, she works as a public servant in Human Resources. Cllr Keenan has also been supportive of saving Bondi Pavilion, the Boot Factory and other progressive initiatives in Waverley Council.
“It’s about being honest with the local people. You can’t always get everything done, but at the very least we’ll listen to your concerns. We’ll always try as hard as we can.”
Randwick Council new Mayor Danny Said and Deputy Mayor Philipa Veitch were honoured to be given the role, and declared that they would work for the community. Mayor Said has been resident in Randwick for most of his life. He is also a supporter of local sports such as the local surf club and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Mayor Said declared, “It is an incredible privilege to be given the opportunity to serve the people of Randwick as Mayor for the coming 12 months. I promise that I will do the best for Randwick and will ensure that Council continues to place our people at the forefront of all decision-making.”
Mayor Said pointed out the proposed and unpopular Yarra Bay cruise ship terminal as a significant challenge that he and other councillors would need to face in the next 12 months of their term.