Former Penrith Mayor Karen McKeown will take on Stuart Ayres at the 2019 State Election after being confirmed as Labor’s candidate for Penrith this morning.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley will officially announce Cr McKeown’s appointment in St Marys inside the next hour.
Cr McKeown has sat on Penrith City Council since 2004, serving as Deputy Mayor in 2006-07 and Mayor in 2015-16.
She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Western Sydney University, majoring in Management with double sub-majors in Law and Employee Relations. She also holds a Labour Law certificate from Sydney University, and the Executive Certificate for Elected Members from UTS.
Labor believes it is a chance of winning Penrith in 2019 on the back of several hot local issues, including the expensive new toll on the M4 Motorway.
The sitting MP Stuart Ayres holds the seat with a significant margin but there was a 9.9 per cent swing to Labor at the last election in 2015.
Labor has gained significant ground in the local region in recent years with the party benefiting from having Prue Car as the Member for Londonderry and Emma Husar as the Federal Lindsay MP.
Mr Ayres has held the seat for the Liberals since 2010, but Penrith has traditionally been Labor heartland. Mr Ayres is just the second Liberal to hold the seat after Guy Matheson’s short run from 1988 until 1991.
The 2015 election saw dwindling support for the Greens in Penrith but Jackie Kelly’s decision to run as an independent threw a spanner in the works. She ultimately gained nine per cent of the vote but is unlikely to run again in 2019.
Despite the swing against him, Mr Ayres still dominated the poll results with 56.2 per cent of the vote two-party-preferred, ahead of Labor’s Emma Husar with 43.8 per cent.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.