When Wollongong and Shellharbour residents go to the polls for the 2021 local government elections, they will choose not only their representatives but also the person who will lead their council.
Six people are in contention for the top job in Wollongong, while Shellharbour has a two-horse race on its hands (Kiama councillors will vote for mayor among themselves).
The Mercury approached each candidate to introduce themselves to the community; you can read their responses below.
Gordon Bradbery, Independent
Married to Pilar with two sons and two granddaughters. Graduate from Wollongong University and post Graduate from Sydney University. I am the first Lord Mayor to be a graduate from the University of Wollongong. I am a member of several boards being a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Justice of the Peace. As an ordained Uniting Church Minister and after 35 years of Ministry and being an Administrator I was elected Lord Mayor of Wollongong in September 2011.
I am passionate about social justice, building and strengthening the community infrastructure and support programs for social inclusion based on collaboration. I have worked hard to promote Wollongong as a liveable and thriving location for all our residents. To protect our natural assets and plan for a sustainable future are amongst my highest priorities. As Lord Mayor it is important to keep the Council focused on its primary role to deliver for the community within the constraints of sound financial management to get maximum outcomes. Keeping in mind always that nearly 80 per cent of council's revenue comes from rates, fees and charges. Therefore accountability and transparency are very significant values I hold dear.
I have been awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for my service to the community.
Tania Brown, Labor
I am Wollongong born and bred, growing up in Unanderra, and am passionate about making Wollongong a thriving regional capital. I have two adult children and work at the local University.
I was elected as a Councillor for Ward 2 in 2017 and elected as Deputy Lord Mayor in 2019. Through my role on council I have fought for our community, this includes establishment of a taskforce to coordinate economic recovery post-COVID, called for the decentralisation of government jobs from Sydney, promoted equality and inclusion and highlighted the need for more parking at our popular beaches.
For the last 12 years I have been chief operating officer of an infrastructure facility at the university and prior to joining the university in 2009, was a senior ministerial policy advisor, having spent 13 years working for state and federal governments. So I know how government works and how to advocate for funding for our city.
Proud to serve as chair of Destination Wollongong and am also a board member of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, the Illawarra District (Steelers) Rugby League Club Limited and the Illawarra Sports Stadium Ltd. I am a self-confessed 'Broadway Tragic' and passionate Illawarra Hawks supporter.
John Dorahy, Liberal
I am married, three adult children and seven wonderful grandchildren, a family man wanting the best for people and families of all ethnicities in Wollongong. I am an executive business manager of both national and international business in cash and cashless payment hardware and have extended study as a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
I would represent Wollongong as your voice for your community as a whole city where the resident, the business owner, the investor and the needy require increased opportunity to meet with the Lord Mayor and/or councillors to seek their empathy, feedback and solutions to the challenges and opportunities facing them.
My drive is to bring improved council services through an open door policy; achieve increased local government infrastructure; and drive improvement to local transport and walkability needs. In my early years, I studied business management and owned and operated business in Wollongong, giving me a superior understanding of the challenges facing local business owners and shoppers, hence my drive to improve transport with free parking with time restrictions to provide regular turnover of parked vehicles and shoppers; and a want to re-open Crown Street to traffic and increased hospitality dining on the footpaths.
Wollongong residents deserve someone like me to be their Lord Mayor to lead and inspire, who has access and the strong ability to advocate and lobby government ministers, the premier and the prime minister for critical funding and grants. My walkability plan is to have a footpath laid on every street across Wollongong for a safer and simpler way for children, parents and elderly to make their way to school, to a friends or shopping. I want to lobby government to give our surf clubs the opportunity to become hives of hospitality to assist the funding of critical lifesaving products. Finally, I will have an open door to you.
Mithra Cox, Greens
I am a musician and environmental educator with a passion for environment and community. I have nearly 20 years experience managing innovative sustainability projects and working in public administration, including in local government and the NSW Parliament. I grew up on the south coast, attending Bomaderry High School and Wollongong University. I now live with my family in Corrimal, am a mum of two kids and in my spare time I play soccer.
I was first elected as a councillor for ward 1 in 2017, and I am proud of how much we have been able to achieve since then: more footpaths, more shade trees, and local solutions to climate change. I want to see a vibrant and sustainable city, where everyone feels welcome.
Marie Glykis, Independent
I was born and raised here. I'm second generation local and for several decades I was a front line worker. I then moved on to management and hospital administration. And now, I'm studying law, IT and teaching.
I love living in the region, it's stunning. And I think it's important that the region always lives up to the nickname the settlers gave it, " NSW's Gardens" referring to how stunning the area is. That's why one of my policies is to always make sure that our escarpment and foot hills remain predominantly green and free from development. So that the city to mountain views remain the same so the next generations can enjoy them and in this way we also keep the area's identity.
I also think it's important to make sure that we don't over develop the region when managing the city, policy development and growth and to ensure that we incorporate our history with future developments. That way we can stand out of the crowd and retain our uniqueness.
Finally, we need to start living up to the city's grab, "City of Innovation". To date, I am yet to see anything that has earned us that title. That needs to change. We so much talent in the region. We need to start addressing it at all levels, e.g. from technology, e.g. who'd love to see a 3D laser show display at Christmas or New Years Eve? What about our organic farming? How can we make that more cost effective so all can enjoy it? What about developments in robotics, or the use of lasers instead of CT scans? And what about "clean" transport options?
There is so much we can do, it's time to make that change. As a result, I think I am well placed to represent you, your families and the community.
Andrew Anthony, Sustainable Australia Party
Lifelong Figtree resident; former councillor 2004-2008; ICT consultant; studied electrical engineering and business management; former Neighbourhood Committee convenor.
[I have] been a passionate campaigner for the environment and social justice in the community. [I am] a strong believer in grassroots democracy and community participation in decision making.
As a councillor, [I] was an avid supporter of council's Bushcare and environmental sustainability projects. [I hope] to continue the fight for sensible sustainable planning and safeguarding the Illawarra escarpment and foreshore from overdevelopment.
During [my] term on council, [I] blew the whistle on dodgy council planning processes and helped expose cosy relationships between developers, councillors and planning staff. He has publicly called for a ban on political donations to reduce the risk of corruption and undue influence on politicians. Andrew enjoys bushwalking, cycling, tinkering with technology, photography, classical music, vegetarian cooking, TV Sci-fi, political dramas & current affairs. On a global scale, Andrew sees land clearing, deforestation and climate change as major challenges of our time. Andrew supports the uptake of renewable energy and teaching people about sustainable living to ensure future generations will be able to appreciate the world in the same way we do.
Chris Homer, Independent
I am a lifelong and well respected surfer who has lived in the Illawarra and the city of Shellharbour all my life. I have spent the whole of 2021 advocating for the protection of Killalea State Park and the National Surfing Reserve from inappropriate development. To help with my voice in advocating for the people in coastal communities I am now recently appointed deputy chair of National Surfing Reserves and a board director for Surfrider Foundation Australia.
In these days and times I am feeling a stronger inner calling than ever before to usher in leadership that is sorely needed and from what I can see desperately desired.
Marianne Saliba, Labor
Continued financial sustainability for me is really important, because without that, our council can't function. Continued renewal of assets... jobs growth, and affordable housing [are priorities].
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