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City of Ryde elects young Liberal mayor as seats shift on Sydney councils


Cr Lane wanted a “shift in focus” on development that meant it was simpler for residents to get a granny flat approved, for example, but would require big developers to show what community benefits they could deliver.

It wasn’t about being “anti-development, or pro-development”, he said, but rather about “sensible, smart and efficient” decision-making.

Cr Laxale said he was concerned the Liberal-led council could become “lapdogs to state ministers and MPs”.

″⁣Our job as a strong opposition will be to make sure the state government doesn’t steamroll their terrible policies over the community,” he said.

On election day, 76 per cent of Ryde ratepayers supported the right to elect their mayor at the next poll, increasing the number of councillors to 13.

The election also initiated a changing of the guard at North Sydney Council.

Independent councillor Zoe Baker was elected as mayor on Monday. She beat rival and fellow nominee Ian Mutton, and ended Liberal-aligned independent Jilly Gibson’s 10-year stint.

“I’m looking forward to a return to openness and transparency, and to the council being one that stands up to the state government, particularly on the impacts of major infrastructure projects and development,” Cr Baker said.

North Sydney’s new mayor Zoe Baker, left, pictured with fellow councillor MaryAnn Beregi, has demanded greater transparency of the $64 million North Sydney Olympic Pool redevelopment.

North Sydney’s new mayor Zoe Baker, left, pictured with fellow councillor MaryAnn Beregi, has demanded greater transparency of the $64 million North Sydney Olympic Pool redevelopment.Credit:Nick Moir

Cr Baker was elected to lead the 10-member council with the support of fellow independent MaryAnn Beregi, and new councillors from Labor and the Sustainable Australia Party. She has been on the council since 2008.

An independent, Cr Mutton won the votes of Cr Gibson, her daughter Alanya Drummond, and newly elected independent councillor James Spenceley – who is a high-profile company director and Airtasker chairman.

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Cr Gibson said she was proud of her 10 years as mayor, particularly for starting the redevelopment of the North Sydney Olympic Pool. Cr Baker has been a vocal critic of the project.

Cr Baker said there had been a shift towards Labor and progressive independents on the lower north shore on a local government level – a change she felt was a sign of widespread unease with the state government’s “overdevelopment policies”.

Lane Cove Council, for example, elected its first Labor mayor, Andrew Zbik, this week.

″⁣I think it is a signal from our community that they want a different style of politics, and I do think there will be a ripple effect at the next state and federal elections,” Cr Baker said.

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