Some said the mayoral race was a foregone conclusion. The two most prominent candidates – independent Kerryn Phelps and liberal Christine Forster – have both withdrawn. Moore’s campaign manager Alex Greenwich said he expected to win a majority of eight seats from the 10 available. It’s all the candidates on his ticket.
All the challengers have expressed their concern to me about this “pride”, calling it bad for democracy and political diversity. They are right. If eight hands automatically go up on any proposition, even if it is democratically voted on, voices representing other groups may go unheard.
The personal revelations of the candidates convinced me of this. Although they are unlikely to become Lord Mayor, their voice as an advisor around this table is important. It takes into account Moore’s long reign. It also brings new perspectives. Challenger Linda Scott told me that her sister, Kylie, who has Down syndrome, is the driving force behind her passion for equality. She understands, on a level that other applicants may not understand, that residents like her sister can make great employees, that they can become financially independent. His contribution to the council’s strategy for people with disabilities is crucial.
Angela Vithoulkas, meanwhile, shared her heartbreaking grief at losing her 18-year-old business, Vivo cafe (and radio station), in Sydney’s CBD. Who else could fight with such passion for fair compensation for small businesses ruined by light rail? Or who, other than Yvonne Weldon, will speak out against the fact that none of the city’s 25 state-funded statues depict a First Nations person?
It is important in this local democracy to know that there is a natural domicile for your vote if, for example, you prefer cycle paths prioritized by (Clover Moore) or parking lots (Jarrett).
Of course, voters can vote below the line to reflect the plurality of votes they want around that table of 10. That plurality — not Clover Moore alone — is what made our city shine.
Gary Nunn is editor of the Sydney Sentinela progressive online news site.