By ALLISON HORE
With Dr. Kerryn Phelps stepping back from her election campaign due to the health of a family member, Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon has announced she would be vying for the top job.
She is the first independent, indigenous candidate for Lord Mayor.
Ms. Weldon announced her candidacy today at Redfern Park, a historic spot for Indigenous Australians where Paul Keating made his Redfern Park Address, acknowledging the damaging legacy of white settlement on Indigenous people and cultures.
If elected, she will be the City of Sydney’s first independent, Indigenous councillor but she said her campaign isn’t just for Indigenous people.
“We’ve had leaders in many walks of life,” she said.
“This is not just about First Nations people this is about all our people. I am very proud to be the first aboriginal person to be standing here before you to contest Lord Mayor.”
Although she is a first time candidate, Ms. Weldon is not new to the world of politics. She has two decades of experience working in key government and Aboriginal organisations including the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council where she was elected to be Chair.
She has also served as Deputy Chair of the NSW Australia Day Council, a Board member of Domestic Violence NSW, and a Board member of Redfern Jarjum College. Her work through these groups makes her a familiar face around council and government events.
Ms. Weldon was originally set to run for council as part of Dr. Phelps team of independents. However when Dr. Phelps bowed out of the race due to the ill health of a close family member, Ms. Weldon stepped up to lead the ticket.
A challenging campaign
On her short run for mayor, Dr. Phelps acknowledged that unseating the incumbent of almost two decades would not be easy. But she thinks Ms. Weldon has what it takes to step up to the mark and take on electoral-powerhouse Clover Moore.
“Sydney is a world class city and we deserve to be number one but we’ve had the same leadership for 17 years and that leadership has lost touch. It’s time to place the City of Sydney in new safe hands,” she said.
“Yvone has proven leadership skills to take on this job and a profound commitment to Sydney and its people.”
Ms. Weldon, too, recognises her campaign will be challenging, but said it’s an “honour” to step into the ring and take on the Lord Mayor.
“Clover is certainly very popular and she always has been, and it’s a great honour to be up against her,” added Ms. Weldon.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy feat but there’s always ways to approach it and regardless of what the outcome is I will work with Clover, as I always have done.”
In the coming weeks Ms. Weldon will be releasing more information on the policy platform she will bring forward to the election as well as her “dream ticket” for council.
Speaking briefly on policies at the campaign launch, she mentioned strategies to bring people back to the city post-COVID would be a priority as well as looking into “inclusive” affordable and social housing models.
“I believe the best is yet to come. Together we can build a fairer, greener, more dynamic Sydney after COVID.”
The City of Sydney election will be held on September 4th.