Openly lesbian councillor Dr. Kerryn Phelps has withdrawn from the City of Sydney mayoral race to care for a family member with a health issue.
In a Facebook post on Friday evening, Dr. Phelps said she was “sad to have to announce” that she would not be nominating for the position of Lord Mayor in the September local council elections.
Dr. Phelps announced her intention to run for mayor in February, an ambition which she said was five years in the making. With current Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, having sat at the helm for almost two decades Dr. Phelps told City Hub she hoped to provide “strong, fresh, informed and experienced leadership to take us into the future.”
Shortly after announcing her candidacy, Dr. Phelps launched her “Sydney Deserves Better” campaign, with purple shirted volunteers hitting the streets to spread her vision for a Sydney “that works for all Sydneysiders for the future.”
Dr. Phelps said she is grateful for the work of her campaign team, volunteers and supporters over the three-month effort and said she was “devastated” to pull out of the race. She explained her decision to withdraw was so she had time to be present for a family member with a health issue.
“I am devastated at the timing as I have been working towards this election for the past five years, but my priority must be my family,” she said.
“I need to be present over the coming months to help manage a health issue for a close family member.”
Serving an “honour and privilege”
In 2016 Dr. Phelps was elected to the City of Sydney council as part of Clover Moore’s Independents Team. She served as Deputy Lord Mayor until 2017, when she resigned and stepped back from Moore’s team to become independent. She said her time in council was a “privilege.”
“I am honoured and privileged to have worked on the City of Sydney Council as a true independent councillor, and will continue to do so until the completion of the term in September,” she said.
With Dr. Phelps out of the running, there is one less challenger for the powerhouse incumbent who has sat in the top seat for 17 years.
Councillor Linda Scott of the Labor party has thrown her hat into the ring and launched her “New Creative Future” campaign. Running for the Greens is former Marrickville councillor, Sylvie Ellsmore, who announced her candidacy in April.
Local government elections in NSW are held every 4 years but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 elections were postponed. The City of Sydney council election will be held on Saturday 4 September 2021.
Dr. Phelps was the first woman to be elected president of the Australian Medical Association. In 2011, she was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for her service to medicine. Dr Phelps is married to Jackie Stricker-Phelps, a former primary school teacher.