PENRITH CITY COUNCIL has four fresh-faced Councillors, newly elected after the recent Local Government election, and they’re all ready to forge on with the job.
I sat down with all four newcomers to discuss why they were inspired to run for council and what they can do for the local area across the next four years. For some of the Councillors this was their first press interview, and between you and me, they didn't do too bad.
For this list we have left out Cr Kath Presdee who is a new face on the Penrith City Council but is being elected to the council for her second time. We will try to feature an interview with her in a future issue.
Cr Duke is the first openly gay male to serve on Penrith council but he says he doesn’t think it is that remarkable.
“It isn’t something that defines me exclusively but it is something that I’m proud of. It won’t change the ways in which I do my duties as a Councillor,” he said. “But I do want to fight more for LGBT rights and people in Penrith.”
Another thing Cr Duke said he wants to keep his “finger on the pulse of” is the need for sustainable housing and infrastructure around the constantly growing Penrith population.
“We are seeing huge population increases like in places like Jordan Springs where literally thousands of new homes are coming to the area, so I want to make sure we are meeting those growth areas with infrastructure needs,” he said.
Being one of the youngest people on the current council, Cr Duke wants to be an advocate for the youth by being “a voice for young people across a range of issues” by getting “more young people involved in decision making processes of council.”
Small business is a great stepping stone into council and Cr Ben Price’s abilities in running a successful real estate business for many years is sure to be a great help in his new role.
Cr Price was given a membership to the Labor party for his 15th birthday from his father, former MP for Chifley Roger Price, and has held that membership ever since.
“For me it is a bit like a football team, the Labor team, and their values are something which is entrenched in me,” he said.
Cr Price said one of the things he wants to push for in the Penrith area is more promotion of business and the increase in opportunities for people in the area.
“I’ve got a young family, so I’d like to make sure Penrith is a safe and nice area to live in, and I want to make sure there are good opportunities for the community,” he said. “Things like planning and opening up the area to visitors, as well as ways in which we can promote business to come into the area.”
According to Cr Price the west is being duped when it comes to new investment and upgraded infrastructure, something he wants to see stop.
“What disappoints me about things that come out to the western suburbs, is that when they come out they’ve always got some form of a condition attached. We need to make sure that we can get the best for Penrith and the best for the region,” Cr Price said.
After an unsuccessful run for the seat of Mulgoa in the 2015 state election, Cr Carney has won a seat on the Penrith City Council.
Cr Carney said one of the things he is most looking forwards to is working with the community on a grassroots level so that everyone in the community can get what is fair.
“Over the next four years I am looking forward to getting out knocking on doors, meeting people at street stalls and at various community events to find out what issues concern them the most and making sure our community gets its fair share,” Cr Carney said.
He said one of the best things about council is that is is the closest form of government to people’s day to day lives.
“Council is the face of government for many people in our community. It is the level of government where people have the most contact - whether it’s your waste pick up, state of the local roads, the condition of local community facilities or a tree you are looking to remove,” he said.
“I have always been passionate about our local area and I believe that working with the community is the only way to get things done.”
The youngest politician on the current Penrith City Council, Cr Hoole is just 23 years old but has worked with MP for Mulgoa Tanya Davies for the last little while.
Being young and in tune with what younger voters want, Cr Hoole said he wants to help restore the nightlife to the Penrith CBD.
“One of the things I’m particularly keen on is the revitalisation of the night-time economy around the Penrith CBD because at the moment it feels pretty flat,” Cr Hoole said. “We have the chance to make this a big city in terms of nightlife so we should aim to make it better.”
He also mentioned the contentious issue of parking as something he’d like to change.
“I want to make sure we don’t introduce parking meters in Penrith, that is just wrong,” said Cr Hoole.
But most importantly, Cr Hoole said the development of Penrith as a national growth area should be something council continues to push, and he sees Penrith becoming a national city, not just a jewel of the west.
“Penrith and its surrounds is the new growth corridor of not just of western Sydney but also of the state, so we need to get on with the job and get Penrith out there for all the experience and see because we’re growing on a massive scale,” he said.