An unprecedented number of gay and lesbian candidates are standing in council elections this Saturday.
However, unlike the emotive campaign taking place in the City of Sydney around homophobia and the protection of the gay community, most out candidates are focusing on bread and butter council issues such as rubbish collection, roads and parks.
At least six openly gay Liberals are running for councillor or mayor positions in four jurisdictions, including Bruce Notley-Smith, Scott Nash, Yianni Zi in Randwick, Peter Cavanagh in Woollahra, and Shayne Mallard in Sydney. Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney decided not to campaign and serve as a party member, but as an independent.
City of Sydney Greens candidate Irene Doutney is a proud Mardi Gras 78er while Wagga Wagga’s Ray Goodlass is openly gay.
Labor continues its tradition of preselecting strong lesbian candidates in Marrickville with Mary O’Sullivan and Laura Wright.
Phillip Black is making another run on Clover Moore’s ticket in Sydney , and a Woollahra-based independent party Residents First has put up Nick Maxwell as its lead candidate.
Here are some of the gay candidates with real chances for election.
Phillip Black -“ City Of Sydney Black is seeking a second term as part of the Clover Moore team, advocating for protecting inner-Sydney’s cultural and built heritage. He pushed for the refurbishment of Sydney Town Hall and headed the heritage committee for the past four years. Since returning from the July Pride celebrations in San Francisco he has called on council to consider a Pink Triangle Memorial for victims of gay hate crimes and the Holocaust. Black also criticised New Mardi Gras officials for failing to greet the San Francisco delegation at the 30th anniversary this year. He also joined ACON CEO Stevie Clayton’s call for Oxford St to be declared a homophobia-free zone. Before his time on council, Black worked as a teacher and geologist. He and his partner own a bed and breakfast guest house in Surry Hills.
Peter Cavanagh -“ Woollahra, Paddington Ward An openly gay Liberal, Cavanagh is best known as the owner of Bayswater Fitness in Surry Hills, which donates money to several gay and lesbian causes. A local going back several generations, Cavanagh wants to preserve the historical value of the area from what he sees as the over-development of centres like the Bowling Club. But worthy projects by locals were too often tied up in council without a decision, he said, so he wants to improve the approval process. Another priority is fixing council services such as rubbish collection and street repairs, he said. Cavanagh practices as a certified accountant in the area as well as running his gym. His previous community involvement has included working for the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and as treasurer of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association.
Mary O’Sullivan -“ Marrickville, South Ward O’Sullivan said when she and her partner moved to the area 10 years ago it felt like they were coming home. As the lead Labor candidate for the area reaching from Enmore to St Peters to Marrickville, O’Sullivan said quality council services were important for the community. Gay and lesbian families were also increasingly needing services like child care and parks, which she wants protected. O’Sullivan is appreciative of the pubs in the area, which provide positive outreach to the gay and lesbian community. Street safety was also something the council should focus on, she said. O’Sullivan has a background in education and retired from the Department of Education and Training two years ago.
Bruce Notley-Smith -“ Randwick, East Ward The first openly gay Liberal mayor, Notley-Smith has been a long-time councillor for the East Ward in Randwick. Since taking up the mayoralty last year, Notley-Smith has continued to focus on environmental sustainability, which saw the council take out the Keep Australia Beautiful sustainable cities award for NSW last year. Although a smoker, he has supported bans on smoking in public outdoor spaces. And he’s called for lock-outs at local problem bars and clubs. As one of a handful of open gay Liberal councillors, Notley-Smith has been keen to show that being gay is no barrier to public life and has been known to bring his long-term partner Paul to official functions.
Nicholas Maxwell -“ Woollahra, Bellevue Hill A new candidate from the independent Residents First party, Maxwell is campaigning on limiting development that could harm the amenity of the area. Specific local problems such as traffic, parking and heritage are his priority, including the cleaning up and maintenance of Cooper Park and improvements to Plumer Rd and the shopping end of Bellevue Rd. He’s also against the Rose Bay and Double mega-marinas. Maxwell is a fourth-generation resident of the area, is a former rugby player at Colleagues, and has a law degree from UTS. He is currently working as a consultant in employment law.
Scott Nash -“ Randwick, West Ward Elected four years ago as a Liberal in one of the most racially diverse districts in NSW, Nash said he looks to ongoing and active community consultation to get issues right for voters. Because of that diversity and tolerance, there wasn’t a need to introduce any of the anti-homophobia programs like those in the City of Sydney, he said, at least not without more reason. Nash’s focus for the next four years will be ensuring the essential services such as roads and playgrounds continue and getting the balance right between the need for development in areas like Kensington and wanting to protect other areas from over-development, like Kingsford. Nash is an environmental, planning and local government lawyer and has a Masters in town planning. As an openly gay man, he would like to see relationship recognition, but feels it should be done at a state or federal level.
Laura Wright -“ Marrickville, North Ward A local since 1987, Wright is the lead Labor candidate for the ward covering Petersham, Stanmore and Newtown. She began campaigning on noise and traffic in the late ’80s and as a candidate is seeking stronger relationships with the gay and lesbian organisations in the area. The council already has a great track record supporting its gay and lesbian community, she said, but the queer section of the recent Marrickville Street Festival could have been greater. Wright doesn’t have much of a profile in the area beyond her neighbours, she admits, so has spent most of the campaign doorknocking and introducing herself. Wright currently works for a superannuation fund, but also has a background in teaching and retail. She has been in a relationship with the same woman since 1974.
Trent Zimmerman -“ North Sydney, Wollstonecraft Ward Running as an independent for mayor of North Sydney, Zimmerman has a long history with the Liberal Party but doesn’t believe local governments should be subject to party politics. The Wollstonecraft ward councillor used his last term to fight the state government over the de-funding of the NorthAIDS drop-in centre for HIV-positive people between the Harbour and Gosford -” a decision he still calls unforgiveable. One of the problems he would like to solve is the lack of weekend and evening businesses in the North Sydney area, which he says can become a ghost town. He also supported the introduction of the Safe Places program, but would like to promote it more effectively if reelected. Zimmerman has been active in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association as a former vice-president. He also led the NSW Young Liberals and works as an electorate officer in North Sydney.