Labor has secured both the Inner West Mayoralty and Deputy Mayoralty as Darcy Byrne and Jessica D’Arienzo were voted into the respective positions at the council’s new term on Wednesday evening.
Cr Byrne won election into the mayoralty after outgoing Greens councillor Rochelle Porteous occupied the position from September to December this year, while D’Arienzo – who ran second on Labor’s Ashfield-Djarrawunang ticket – will occupy the deputy mayoralty until September 2022, rather than September 2023, when a new mayoralty vote will occur. Cr Byrne had held the mayoralty prior to Ms Porteous and was the inaugural mayor of Inner West Council.
Behind the support of the eight-seat Labor bloc, both Byrne and D’Arienzo were comfortably voted to the postings after respective challenges from the Greens Kobi Shetty and Independent and previous deputy mayor Pauline Lockie. Both Shetty and Lockie attracted the votes of the five-seat Greens caucus and the two remaining Independents (Crs John Stamolis and Lockie) but were defeated behind an all-important Labor majority.
Council will hold its first ordinary meeting in February next year, where Crs Byrne and D’Arienzo will occupy their postings on the new term.
Cr Byrne was reelected to Inner West Council following a successful campaign in the Balmain-Baludarri ward, where he was returned alongside fellow incumbent Cr Stamolis and new Greens candidate Cr Shetty.
Cr D’Arienzo was voted onto council in Ashfield following the failed reelection bid of Julie Passas, who was disendorsed by the Liberal Party ahead of the elections. Cr D’Arienzo took Ms Passas’ seat – who ran as an independent – with the other two positions in the ward remaining with Labor councillor Mark Drury and the Greens, with outgoing Ashfield councillor Tom Kiat handing on the seat to Dylan Griffiths.
Owning a majority in the council chamber will be crucial for the Labor caucus, who will be tasked with leading the preparation of a de-amalgamation business case for the Minister for Local Government after voters supported splitting the current Inner West Council back to the former Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville council areas.
Following a reshuffle of the NSW Government cabinet ahead of the 2023 State Elections, Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman was given the Local Government portfolio after her predecessor, Shelley Hancock, decided to step away from cabinet.
Another issue that will continue into the new term will be mitigating the effects of WestConnex and the Western Harbour Tunnel, both of which are raising profound concerns with residents near the Rozelle Interchange. Noise, air pollution, lack of open space and traffic have all been circled as issues stemming from the motorways’ construction and will be key topics for council to grapple with in the coming years.