There’s still some familiar faces contesting East Ward at next week’s Council Election despite the departure of a veteran independent Councillor.
East Ward covers key western Sydney suburbs such as St Marys, that has seen a huge increase in home values since the announcement of the Western Sydney Airport.
In June, the Weekender reported that Raine and Horne St Marys recorded immediate increases between five and 10 per cent on housing, apartments and vacant land in the wake of the airport announcement.
St Marys has the Spring Festival that was cancelled this year due to setbacks in the streetscape works, but the CBD is expected to be revitalised with people, after its first high rise apartment building began construction in May this year.
East Ward also covers one of the most important features of the Penrith LGA, the Health and Education Precinct across the Western Sydney University site in Kingswood and Nepean TAFE.
For the last four years, East Ward has been represented by two Labor Councillors, Prue Car and Greg Davies, Liberal Tricia Hitchen and independents Maurice Girotto and Jackie Greenow.
In the 2016 Penrith Council Election, it has the smallest number of candidates running for one of the five spots, with just 15 candidates on three tickets – five Greens, five Labor and five Liberal.
Councillor Maurice Girotto has moved to instead run in South Ward for the Christian Democratic Party, and East Ward is also losing two of its female Councillors, including 21-year veteran Jackie Greenow.
“A question was asked of me, ‘do I still want to be doing it in four years time’, and it’s a commitment I’m not willing to make,” Cr Greenow told the Weekender.
“Now I will be able to spend more time with my three grandchildren who have never known me as anything other than a Councillor.”
Cr Greenow said she wanted to clarify that she isn’t leaving East Ward, she’s just not running in the next election.
The second is Cr Car, who won the seat of Londonderry for the Labor Party at the 2015 State Election.
Greg Davies is still running for the Labor Party though, with another former State Election candidate, Todd Carney, running second on his ticket.
Cr Davies said he believes they are both a really good chance at securing a seat on Council, and could possibly even get their third candidate, Ben Price, across the line to represent the area that has a very broad demographic.
“We do have a large proportion of older established areas, that have been around for as long as most people can remember,” Cr Davies said.
“They were around long before we had Section 94 developer contributions, so there’s still work to do to bring the amenities up to scratch.”
Caddens is fairly new, but he said in older areas like St Marys and North St Marys, there needs to be usable green space for families to enjoy the outdoors together.
With the loss of two Councillors, the Liberal Party can be excused for running both current Councillors Tricia Hitchen and Bernard Bratusa on the same ticket.
Cr Bratusa is leaving his spot in South Ward to take a shot at East Ward, where he ran unsuccessfully against Prue Car for the seat of Londonderry at the 2015 State Election.
“I met a lot of good people door knocking in Londonderry so I think there’s a lot of opportunities in that ward,” Cr Bratusa said.
“And they’ve lost a lot of experience losing [the three Councillors] so there’s a need for experienced Councillors in East Ward.”
In terms of where your vote will go, Labor is preferencing the Greens in East Ward and vice versa, leaving no preference deal to be made for the Liberal Party.
East Ward residents can vote before September 10 at St Marys Memorial Hall, on the corner of Great Western Highway and Mamre Road, St Marys, or 205 to 209 High Street, Penrith.