He was only elected to the top job in September, but Penrith Mayor Todd Carney already has big plans for the area in 2024.
Born and raised in western Sydney, he moved to Glenmore Park in 2003, the day after his 26th birthday.
After leaving school in Year 10, Carney became a diesel mechanic before an unfortunate back fracture forced him to leave the trade.
In 2005, he became a member of the Labor Party and landed a job with former Lindsay MP David Bradbury, where he worked for six years.
“He gave me the opportunity to come in and do local media for him but also constitutional work as well,” Carney told the Weekender.
“I’ve actually been involved with the party since 1999 and I have volunteered to help out at elections but I didn’t join the party because I wanted to make sure it’s something that was for me.”
During that time, he discovered his passion for local politics and working to achieve great community outcomes.
“Local government is that grassroots level, it’s where everything happens,” Carney said.
“Everything we [councillors] do impacts on our residents, so it just gives you that sense of really making a difference in people’s lives.
“It doesn’t matter what persuasion you come from, we work together to get great outcomes for our community and I think that’s the important part.
“If we can see more affordable housing, a greener city, a cooler city, more activities around the river and things like that, that’s a great outcome for our community and it’s something my kids and grandkids will be able to enjoy into the future.”
Carney said the opportunity to run for mayor was one he simply couldn’t pass up.
He also confirmed his plans to nominate for the next election, through the Labor Party in his ward, saying he’d love to stay on for another two years in the role.
“There’s not many opportunities for people to be the mayor of their city, so when those opportunities come up you’ve got to grab them with both hands,” he said.
Looking forward to this year, Carney is determined to make a lasting impact, despite only serving a one-year term as mayor.
He said there are currently a lot of different projects underway, and his priority is getting those finished within the budget that has been set.
“We’ve got City Park open, we’ve got Gipps Street that’ll open in 2024, and on the western side of the river we’ve got the works that are still going on there around Regatta Park,” he told the Weekender in December.
Carney said one of his biggest goals is to make Penrith a more liveable city, where everyone can work and play close to home.
“It brings that dollar back into our community, which means people spending money within our local economy, which helps our local businesses to thrive,” he said.
“It just drives our circular economy, and part of my vision is to keep that moving.”
According to Carney, St Marys is also a real focus, especially with the new metro coming in 2026.
He said it is a great central location, given it is only a 20-minute train ride to Parramatta, the Blue Mountains, and the new Western Sydney International Airport.
“We’re working on our master plan at the moment that will be released towards the middle of next (this) year,” Carney said.
“That will set the direction of where St Marys needs to go and look at what opportunities we can have for people in the area to work close to home.
“We need to start going out and speaking to businesses, not just local businesses, but other bigger businesses about the options around coming out to Penrith and St Marys.”
Carney said he “loves the Penrith area immensely” and the down to earth, hardworking people who live and work here.
“I’m passionate about what I do, I’m passionate about my community and I love where I live,” he said.
“It’s somewhere I’ve chosen to raise my children, and somewhere that I hope, one day, they choose to raise theirs.
“When I want to get an outcome, it’s not so much for my generation, it’s for future generations…. and I think if we can all work together as a community we’re going to get some great outcomes.”
Formerly with the ABC, Makayla is a graduate of Western Sydney University. She covers a variety of news topics for the Weekender, including courts.