Council Election: Changing dynamics create uncertainty in North Ward

Ross Fowler and John Thain handing out how-to-vote cards at the 2012 Election
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Three of Council’s most experienced campaigners in the shape of John Thain, Kevin Crameri and Ross Fowler are again contesting North Ward at next week’s Council Election.

North Ward has seen a huge increase in its population with the recent development of the new Jordan Springs housing estate in its south-east, and before that, canal-living in Waterside.

In the north, residents and business in the semi-rural Londonderry will be affected by the NSW Government’s ban on greyhound racing, and in the south there’s new a new type of residents in the contemporary Thornton estate.

Council has recently had a strong focus on activating the CBD’s night time economy, and has approved a record amount of development applications.

For the last four years, North Ward has been represented by one Labor Councillor, John Thain; one Liberal, Ross Fowler; one Greens, Michelle Tormey; and two independents, Kevin Crameri and Marcus Cornish.

Each current Councillor is recontesting to secure one of the five spots, and if they all receive enough votes to get back in, no one will get their second candidate on Council.

However, Deputy Mayor Ross Fowler got both his second and third candidate up in the 2012 election, and is fairly confident he will get his number two, Glen Gardiner, up this time.

“I am hopeful I will get my number two elected,” he said.

Cr Fowler has been a long-term Councillor, and recognised the importance of North Ward as a residential area as Penrith continues to grow.

“Not withstanding this, there is still important agricultural industries in North Ward.

There’s horse studs along Castlereagh Road, market gardens in Berkshire Park and what will be in the future a very important location with the Penrith Lakes.”

Marcus Cornish
Marcus Cornish

It’s been a battle for Councillors affiliated with major parties to come to agreements with controversial Cr Cornish, who turned his back on the Liberal Party to run as a conservative independent.

Cr Cornish suggested there could have been a Labor-Liberal cross preference deal, which both parties flatly denied.

“Labor is preferencing the Greens (and vice versa across all wards), Crameri is preferencing Cornish (and vice versa) and the Liberals are standing on their own. I’m not getting preferences nor am I giving them,” Cr Fowler said.

Labor’s Cr Thain said the new population in Jordan Springs makes it hard to predict which way votes will go, with it likely to be a tight contest.

“North Ward has changed dramatically in the last four years, we have these new estates with a lot more new voters where we don’t know how they will vote. There’s no patterns,” he said.

“I desperately hope I get my second in. He’s young and has some great ideas and you need to have that so it’s more representative of the city.”

North Ward has key arterial roads such as The Northern Road that has recently been widened and Castlereagh Road that are both in gridlock during peak hours.

Widening Dunheved Road has been flagged as absolutely critical for a new Council, in addition to Werrington Road to the Great Western Highway.

North Ward candidates
North Ward candidates

Long-term Penrith Councillor, Cr Crameri, who has been a loud voice for the semi-rural areas for 28 years, said roads are a critical issue.

“We have to keep on top of our roads, they are deteriorating badly, like Dunheved and Andrews Roads,” he said.

“Plus, car parking and traffic flow are huge issues, it can take you 15 minutes to go down High Street.”

Cr Thain, Cr Fowler and Cr Crameri would be confident of retaining their spots on Council, but the other two positions will be hotly contested.

North Ward residents can vote before the September 10 election at the St Marys Memorial Hall, on the corner of Great Western Highway and Mamre Road, St Marys, or 205 to 209 High Street, Penrith in the old Blockbuster Video site.

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