Inner West Independent

Inner West Independents say local suffers when party politics thrive

Independent John Stamolis (left) and Independent Pauline Lockie (right) are both running for re-election. Photo: various.

By EVA BAXTER

Inner West Council is infamous for its infighting. Independent councillor John Stamolis told the Inner West Independent, that’s what happens when big party politics interferes at the local level.

Stamolis has served his community for 24 years but will be fighting desperately to win an election against rookies backed by political parties which dominate the Inner West Council.

“Let’s say we’re running a 100-metre race, well they’ve already given the political parties a 50m head start,” said Stamolis. “Their political tag gives them that, you remove the tag, the head starts gone. People then have to vote for good citizens in their community.”

The September 4 elections will be Stamolis’ sixth election, he said none of them have been local.

“90% of councils in Australia are able to function very well without any control or interference from the two big political parties, they do not exist in 90% of councils, so why do they need to be in the Inner West?” he said.

Independent councillor Pauline Lockie told the Inner West Independent people vote for names they don’t recognise because of familiarities with the party behind them.

“You have to do the work as an independent to reach out to your community, to communicate with your constituents, to make it really clear what you stand for,” she said.

For Lockie, running for council in 2017 and again this year is an opportunity to push for her interests but also to make sure there are people on council who aren’t tied to political parties.

“Political party platforms are rarely set at local level, they tend to be set at state if not national level, and those kinds of policy objectives, agreements, ambitions, don’t necessarily serve local communities all that well,” she said.

To celebrate the City Hub’s 26th anniversary, we will host a forum for candidates in the upcoming Inner West Council elections. • Meet select candidates from across all five wards • Bring your questions • Participate in the democratic process

Big parties, little games

Jack Robertson is running as an Independent for Balmain for the first time. He’s a local musician who’s been playing in Balmain pubs for 25 years. His band used to play the Sir Willy Wallace in Birchgrove.

“A big part of my specific impetus came from a debate that happened online about the William Wallace hotel, which is currently undergoing reservations,” he told the Inner West Independent.

“It was a classic case of politicians wading in, trying to use the local issue, which was a practical issue, for point scoring, and it crystallized the feelings I’ve had about everything from the Dawn Fraser pool, where the same thing happened, to WestConnex, a lot of local issues where it just needs three councillors to get together and come up with the best solution and not play politics with it.”

“The worst thing for us is that there are so many exciting things going on but also things that could really be taken out of our control,” he said. He listed the Tigers footy club, the Bays precinct, WestConnex and Callan Park.

“We need to start talking clearly and bluntly about practical ways forward, otherwise we’re gonna lose control over them completely,” he said.

Jack Robertson in front of the Sir William Wallace hotel renovation. The renovation kicked him into action to run for the Inner West Council elections. Photo: Supplied.

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