City of Ryde elects young Liberal mayor as seats shift in Sydney City Council

Cr Lane wanted a “shift in focus” on development, which meant it would be easier for residents to get, say, a granny flat approved, but would require major developers to demonstrate the benefits they could bring to the community.

It wasn’t about “anti-development or pro-development,” he said, but about “sensible, smart and efficient” decision-making.

Cr Laxale said he was concerned that the Liberal-led council could become “lap dogs of ministers and MPs”.

“Our job as a strong opposition party is to make sure the state government doesn’t let their terrible policies roll over the community,” he said.

On Election Day, 76 percent of Ryde’s taxpayers supported the right to elect their mayor at the next poll, increasing the number of councilors to 13.

The election also led to a changing of the guard at North Sydney Council.

Independent councilor Zoe Baker was elected mayor on Monday. She defeated rival and co-nominee Ian Mutton, ending liberal-lined independent Jilly Gibson’s 10-year stint.

“I look forward to a return to openness and transparency, and to the council standing up to the state government, especially regarding the impact of major infrastructure projects and development,” said Cr Baker.

Zoe Baker, the new mayor of North Sydney, left, pictured along with fellow councilor MaryAnn Beregi, has demanded greater transparency from the $64 million redevelopment of the $64 million Olympic pool in North Sydney.

Zoe Baker, the new mayor of North Sydney, left, pictured along with fellow councilor MaryAnn Beregi, has demanded greater transparency from the $64 million redevelopment of the $64 million Olympic pool in North Sydney.Credit:Nick Moir

Cr Baker was elected to lead the 10-member council with the support of fellow independent MaryAnn Beregi and new councilors from Labor and the Sustainable Australia Party. She has been on the board since 2008.

The independent Cr Mutton won the votes of Cr Gibson, her daughter Alanya Drummond and newly elected Independent Councilor James Spenceley – a high-profile company director and chairman of Airtasker.

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Cr Gibson said she was proud of her 10 years as mayor, especially for starting the redevelopment of the North Sydney Olympic Pool. Cr Baker has been a vocal critic of the project.

Cr Baker said there had been a shift towards Labor and progressive independents on the lower north coast at the local government level – a change she said was a sign of widespread unease with the state government’s “over-development policies”.

Lane Cove Council, for example, elected its first Labor mayor, Andrew Zbik, this week.

“I think it’s a signal from our community that they want a different style of politics, and I think there will be a ripple effect in the next state and federal election,” said Cr Baker.

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