Rod Oxley to run for lord mayor

By Nicole Hasham
Updated November 5 2012 - 11:59pm, first published April 8 2011 - 10:40am

A key figure in Wollongong's corruption scandal has called on the community to overlook the past and install him as the city's lord mayor.Rod Oxley, the former council general manager who in 2008 was found to have created an environment where corruption flourished by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), urged the city not to dwell on history and instead elect him to its highest office. EDITORIAL: Oxley faces hard task to woo voters"There's no sweeping under the carpet the events [of] a couple of years ago, but I think the city itself needs to be able to move forward in a positive and proactive way," he said."The city seems to have stagnated and come to a bit of a halt. It's in the doldrums, it's not growing, it's not developing."[I need to] demonstrate quite clearly to the community that they can have trust in me to represent them and the city in such a way that we can achieve … opportunities for the city to grow."The council has been in administration for the past three years. The new Coalition Government is due to conduct fast-tracked council elections in September.General manager for almost two decades, Mr Oxley was a controversial, sometimes polarising public figure who pursued an unashamed pro-development philosophy.His reputation was left in tatters after ICAC found he created an environment which bred corruption. He was not recommended for criminal charges.The 63-year-old denied the mayoral tilt was a bid to rewrite his sullied legacy, saying it was instead fuelled by a burning desire to restore the city's pride."This isn't out of self-interest … I'm doing it because I think Rod Oxley has something to add to the city," he said."I have the drive, the single-mindedness, the passion and I've got the interests of the city at heart."I've certainly got the experience and the understanding of the city and the politics around it."I'm not going to die wondering - I'll give it my best shot, and if it doesn't work out the way I wanted it, then so be it."Asked whether his election to lord mayor would make Wollongong the subject of ridicule, he said: "In my view it would not."There seems to be a lot of emphasis given to a particular event when so many other good things happened under my management."Mr Oxley said he would work hard to dispel lingering perceptions that Wollongong was a murky place to do business.He will run as an independent under the banner Wollongong First, saying party politics had brought the council unstuck, and he encouraged other independents to run for council.Comparing himself to once-disgraced footballer Wendell Sailor, who restored his career after being found guilty of taking cocaine, Mr Oxley was hopeful the public would welcome him back."Wendell was able to redeem himself and demonstrate that he was a decent person. And I draw a lot of strength from that sort of approach," Mr Oxley said."[I hope people will] say 'well, there might have been a blemish back there but let's give this guy another go'."He would not shy away from his "pro-development" approach if elected, but said the term need not be a dirty word, and should encompass the cultural, community and social life of Wollongong."The bricks and mortar are one thing, but there's a whole range of other elements that make up the fabric of a city, and that's what I'm really strong about seeing grow," he said.Mr Oxley said he would aim to win the mayoral race, but reserved the right to withdraw before nominations opened should he not attract the required public support.

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