On December 4, 2021, around 124 councils will hold elections for councillors and/or mayors across NSW. The Star Observer reached out to the groups participating in these council elections and asked if their LGBTQI candidates would like to appear in the Star Observer LGBTQI Candidate Profile.
Declan Clausen – Labor – Newcastle Council
Declan Clausen is the Labor Party’s lead candidate and current Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle.
Clausen was first elected in 2015, at the age of 22 and he is the youngest person to be elected and the youngest Deputy Lord Mayor in the city’s history.
If re-elected, he promises to ensure that Newcastle is “well positioned to build back better from the COVID health and economic crisis. This includes a range of local projects such as local centre upgrades.”
Matthew Robertson – Greens – Woollahra Council
Matthew Robertson is the lead candidate on the Greens’ ticket for Woollahra Council, Paddington ward.
He has been representing the area since 2012 and believes that rejecting the commercialisation of Mardi Gras and standing up for the rights of trans and gender diverse young people are key issues facing the LGBTQI community.
Over the next three years, Robertson would like to “accelerate the roll out of public electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” especially in Paddington.
He believes electric vehicles are vital for a clean planet and wants “to reward residents who are doing the right thing [by] going electric and make it affordable for everyone.”
One thing about Matthew Robertson that people are surprised to learn: “Despite being an inner-city dweller my whole life, I love to escape to the bush for camping and long hikes.”
Ben Mitchell – Liberal – Maitland City Council
Ben Mitchell, a resident of Telarah, is the Liberal Mayoral and West Ward Candidate for Maitland. He was first elected in 2017 and is the youngest councillor in Maitland’s history.
Mitchell chose to represent the Liberals because of their values of small government and less regulation. “I wanted to do something about issues in my community, not just be a keyboard warrior and whinge about things.”
When it comes to issues facing the LGBTQI community in Maitland, Mitchell believes that they “face the same issues as any other citizen, road congestion, council services, balanced representation on council and reasonable rates,” adding, “In many respects they’re no different to the rest of the Maitland community.”
“I’m not a great believer in [an] ‘LGBTQI Community’ and I’ve never particularly been welcomed into it if there is one. Many people from that community are quite openly hostile because I’m a Liberal.”
During his next term in council, he would like to heighten the level of debate and search for more common ground with people, believing that Council has become too divided.
One thing about Ben Mitchell that people are surprised to learn: “I’m gay, a Councillor at my age and a member of my local Rotary club. I guess I don’t really fit many stereotypes.”
Liz Atkins – Greens – Inner West Council
Liz Atkins is the lead candidate on the Greens’ ticket for the Inner West Council, Damun (Stanmore) ward.
By the end of their first term on council, they would like to see an increase in the tree canopy through preventing trees from being “chopped down too easily,” and through the planting of more trees. They would also like a “dedicated Queer Officer at Inner West Council” to ensure that LGBTQI issues are given more attention.
Climate change is also a major issue for Atkins. They believe that the Council should lead by example and “want to see carbon neutral Inner West Council operations by 2025 and a net zero reduction target of 75% by 2030.”
One thing about Liz Atkins that people are surprised to hear: “I have a Public Service Medal awarded in the 2013 Australia Day Honours list for outstanding public service in the development and implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing legislation and regulation.”
Mathew Howard – Labor – Inner West Council
Mathew Howard, a resident of Marrickville, is the Labor Party’s lead candidate for the Inner West Council, Midjuburi (Marrickville) ward.
Howard is committed to an Inner West Pride Centre, officially marking Transgender Day of Visibility and Transgender Day of Remembrance, and installing a rainbow crossing for Newtown.
“These policies are about ensuring LGBTQI people are supported, acknowledged and share the sense of belonging that makes the Inner West such a great place to live.”
Howard is looking forward to the Inner West Pride Centre opening and believes it will give LGBTQI people “a safe and welcoming space to gather, celebrate and organise.”
One thing about Mathew Howard that people are surprised to learn: “I’m also Canadian! My husband and I were married fifteen years ago in a blizzard in Nova Scotia (after meeting at Mardi Gras) and we lived for over ten years in Toronto, where we adopted our boys.”
Justine Langford – Greens – Inner West Council
Justine Langford, a resident of Marrickville for the last 10 years, is the Greens’ lead candidate for Inner West Council, Midjuburi (Marrickville) ward.
By the end of their first term, they would like to see a reversal in the Inner West Council’s tree policy, which has seen “the loss of 14 hectares of canopy across the last 12 months.”
Langford would like to “increase the tree canopy across the Inner West by 2%.”
One thing about Justine Langford that people are surprised to learn: “I’m not a vegetarian! (Not sure why people make this assumption. [However] my diet is predominantly plant-based).”
Jessica D’Arienzo – Labor – Inner West Council
Jessica D’Arienzo, a resident of Dulwich Hill, is second on the Labor Party’s ticket for Inner West Council, Djarrawunang (Ashfield) ward.
She chose to represent the Labor Party because Labor has not “stopped fighting for our right to be treated equally.” In 2012, she led a campaign to make the Marrickville Metro’s Parents with Pram signs more inclusive.
One thing about Jessica D’Arienzo that people are surprised to learn: “I am strong. I can leg press three times my body weight.”
Jack Whitney – Labor – Inner West Council
Jack Whitney, a resident of Leichhardt, is third on the Labor Party’s ticket for the Inner West Council, Baludarri (Balmain) ward. Besides running for council, Whitney is a social worker and Co-Convenor at the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.
He would like to turn Darling Street and Marrickville Road into Special Entertainment Precincts, creating opportunities for outdoor dining, live music, and street fairs.
By the end of his first term, Whitney wants a more sustainable council. “This includes the rolling out [of] food recycling across every home in the Inner West, maximising solar in council buildings, and turning the storm water networks back into natural creeks.”
Ben Moroney – Greens – Campbelltown Council
Ben Moroney, a resident of Leumeah, has been a councillor since 2016 and is the lead candidate on the Greens’ ticket.
During their first term, “All of Council’s systems, policies and forms were updated to include gender-neutral options,” and they were able to get Council to “declare a climate emergency,” as well as keep council rates fair and progressive.
By the end of their second term, they would like to create a Council-owned affordable housing provider and expand on existing Council-owned early childhood education services.
One thing about Ben Moroney that people are surprised to learn: “I paint my own nails. They always insist I had somebody else’s help.”
Avery Howard – Greens – Liverpool City Council
Avery Howard is an anti-poverty activist and the Greens’ lead candidate for Liverpool Council, North ward.
“As someone who has experienced homelessness and poverty, as well as the added pressures of being a non-binary person and active in a somewhat public space, the Greens are fighting for issues that I’m passionate about.”
Over the next three years, Howard wants to take steps to address climate change by implementing a policy to declare a climate emergency.
They also believe “young people and gender diverse people are severely underrepresented within politics,” adding, “I hope to be one way we can change that.”
One thing about Avery Howard that people are surprised to learn: “I love to watch maths videos. Even though it’s a part of my degree, there’s something so nice about watching someone else solve a problem and going through the steps they did to solve it.”
Martin Moore – Greens – Sutherland Council
Martin Moore resides in Cronulla and is the Greens’ lead candidate for the Sutherland Council, ward A.
According to Moore, transgender rights is the main issue the LGBTQI community will face over the next couple of years.
By the end of their first term, they would like to shift “Council’s focus [from] greenwashing and tokenism, in regards the Climate Emergency, [towards] a pathway of sound doable action.”
One thing about Martin Moore that people are surprised to learn: “I’m a Quaker by conviction.”
Dana Hatley – Greens – Hornsby Council
Dana Hatley lives in Hornsby and is the second on the Greens’ ticket for ward B, Hornsby Council.
Hatley believes that the biggest issue facing the LGBTQI community is “increasing influence of the evangelical right” and the push to reverse progress that has been made.
She feels that overdevelopment is a major issue facing Hornsby Council. “We need to ensure that where new development is allowed that suitable infrastructure is included as part of the planning.”
One thing about Dana Hatley that people are surprised to hear: “That they think I am younger than I actually am – which is very flattering for me!”
Bradley Stanton – Greens – Shoalhaven City Council
Bradley Stanton has lived in Nowra for 15 years and is second on the Greens’ ticket for the Shoalhaven City Council, ward 1.
By the end of their first term they would like to see more local LGBTQI mental health and support services, especially for young people. They would also like to see a more inclusive Shoalhaven and be “a voice for those who seem voiceless.”
“I was one of those students bullied continuously through High School. My stories are so horrid, I keep to myself. I know what it’s like to be told to move schools when you are the victim. I understand the mental pain that is felt. I should have loved my school years, instead and despite high grades – I hated them.”
One thing about Bradley Stanton that people are surprised to hear: “People also get pretty spun out when I tell them I also have worked as an on-air presenter on community and commercial radio.”
Debbie Killian – Greens – Shoalhaven Council
Debbie Killian, a resident of Fisherman’s Paradise, is fourth on the Greens’ ticket for Shoalhaven Council, ward 3.
She chose to represent the Greens because they are the “only party that has clear policies across social justice and environmental issues and which takes a principled and practical approach to everything including economic decisions.”
By the end of their first term, she would like to reduce environmental damage caused by “unsustainable and unrestrained greed in development.”
One thing about Debbie Killian that people are surprised to learn: “I feel as I get older that I may be a bit less surprising than I used to think I was, but maybe it depends [on] who you ask? Perhaps that I have been writing a novel for a while now and I’m not sure whether it’s more surprising that I’m writing it or that it’s taking me so bloody long!”
Sallie Colechin – Greens – Mid-Coast Council
Sallie Colechin lives in Wingham and is number six on the Greens’ ticket for the Mid-Coast Council. She is also a Mardi Gras 78er.
Colechin chose to run as a Greens’ candidate because they have, “consistently supported LGBQTI+ rights.”
By the end of her first term, she would like more transparency and community involvement in council dealings. She would also put in place more protections for the environment.
One thing about Sallie Colechin that people are surprised to learn: “How much l love to get my hands in the earth and in the kitchen.”
Saan Ecker – Greens – Yass Valley Council
Saan Ecker has lived in the Yass Valley for over 15 years and is number two on the Greens’ ticket.
Ecker chose to represent the Greens because of their focus on social equality and environmental sustainability.
By the end of their first term, they would like to make progress on “overcoming barriers to autonomy over the bodies of gender diverse people,” and make council policies greener.
One thing about Saan Ecker that people are surprised to learn: “I trekked my horses from Melbourne to Sydney over 6 months.”