City of Blacktown election, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 9.20.09 amThe City of Blacktown covers parts of north-western Sydney, including the Blacktown and Mount Druitt urban centres and the suburbs of Quakers Hill, Kings Langley, Seven Hills, Rooty Hill, Doonside, Shalvey, Whalan, Kellyville Ridge, Schofields and Riverstone.

Blacktown has a population of approximately 332,000 people (as of 2014), which makes it the fifth-largest council in Australia. Until recently, Blacktown was the largest council in New South Wales, but was recently overtaken by the new Canterbury-Bankstown Council. Since this newly merged council won’t have an election until 2017, Blacktown is the most populous NSW council which will be elected in 2016.

Wards
Blacktown is divided up into five wards, with each ward electing three councillors.

The five wards are numbered from Ward 1 to Ward 5. The wards are numbered in a clockwise direction, starting with Ward 1 in northern parts of the council.

Ward 1 covers northern parts of the electorate, mostly covering newly-developing suburbs and less developed parts of the council, including the suburbs of Schofields, Kellyville Ridge, Stanhope Gardens, Riverstone and Quakers Hill.

Ward 2 covers eastern areas including Kings Langley, Glenwood, Marayong, Lalor Park and parts of Blacktown and Seven Hills.

Ward 3 covers the south-east of the council, including most of Blacktown, parts of Seven Hills and Prospect.

Ward 4 covers the south-west of the council, including Mount Druitt, Rooty Hill, Minchinbury, Doonside and Glendenning.

Ward 5 covers the north-west of the council, including Plumpton, Oakhurst, Tregear, Shalvey and Whalan.

Redistribution
Changes were made to four wards. Ward 1 lost areas south of the M7 to wards 2 and 4, and gained Kellyville Ridge and Stanhope Gardens from Ward 2. Ward 2 gained areas from Ward 3 on the northern side of the railway line, including parts of Seven Hills and the Blacktown city centre. Ward 3 gained a small area from Ward 1, and also gained some areas from Ward 4. No changes were made to Ward 5.

Incumbent councillors

Ward 1 Jess Diaz (Liberal) Alan Pendleton (Labor) Walter Smith (Liberal)
Ward 2 Mark Holmes (Liberal) Leo Kelly (Labor) Len Robinson (Liberal)
Ward 3 Susai Benjamin (Labor) Russ Dickens (Independent) Karlo Siljeg (Liberal)
Ward 4 Edmond Atalla (Labor) Stephen Bali (Labor) Isabelle White (Liberal)
Ward 5 Tony Bleasdale (Labor) Jacqueline Donaldson (Ind.)1 Charlie Lowles (Labor)

1Jacqueline Donaldson was elected as a Liberal in 2012 but left the party in 2015.

History
Blacktown was dominated by Labor until the 2012 election, when they lost their majority on the council.

In 2004, Labor won ten out of fifteen seats. The Liberal Party won the third seat in four wards, with independent Russ Dickens winning the final seat.

Labor managed to hold on to a narrow majority in 2008, holding on to eight of their seats. The Liberal Party won a seat in all five wards. In Ward 1, sitting Liberal councillor Allan Green was deselected, but he was re-elected as an independent. Independent Russ Dickens was also re-elected.

Labor lost its majority on Blacktown council at the 2012 election, retaining seven seats. The Liberal Party gained second seats in two wards, giving them a total of seven seats (including one taken from Allan Green), with Russ Dickens holding the balance of power.

Dickens sided with the Liberal Party in the 2012 mayoral vote, ending a lengthy period of Labor holding the Blacktown mayoralty. The Liberal Party’s Len Robinson was elected mayor, and was re-elected in 2013.

After two years of Liberal mayors, Labor regained the mayoralty in 2014. The election was conducted by secret ballot, and one of the seven Liberal councillors apparently cast their vote for Labor mayoral candidate Stephen Bali, giving him a majority. Bali defeated Liberal candidate Jess Diaz, who was slated to replace his party colleague Robinson.

When the time came to choose a mayor in 2015, Liberal councillor Jacqueline Donaldson decided to quit the Liberal Party. Donaldson supported Bali for a second term as mayor, and was supported by the Labor councillors as deputy mayor.

Candidate summary
Labor and Liberal are both running full tickets across the council.

Four of seven Labor councillors are running for re-election, including incumbent mayor Stephen Bali. The party’s sole Ward 1 councillor Alan Pendleton is retiring, along with Edmond Atalla from Ward 4 and Charlie Lowles in Ward 5. Kathie Collins is running as the second Labor candidate in Ward 3. Collins was a Labor councillor until she was defeated for preselection in 2012. She ran as an independent and came close to defeating independent Russ Dickens.

Only two of six Liberal councillors are running for re-election. The two incumbent Liberals in ward 1 (Jess Diaz and Walter Smith) are running again, while the remaining four, including former mayor Len Robinson, are retiring. The Liberal Party is running Jaymes Diaz as their lead candidate in ward 2 (their second-best ward). Diaz is the son of the party’s council leader Jess Diaz and a former unsuccessful candidate for the federal seat of Greenway.

Independents Russ Dickens and Jacqueline Donaldson are running for re-election in their respective wards 3 and 4.

A group of independents is running in all five wards under the banner of Blacktown Residents Voice (although this name won’t appear on the ballot), although they are only running an ungrouped candidate in Ward 4.

The Greens are running full tickets in three wards along with an ungrouped candidate in Ward 4.

Australia First and the Christian Democratic Party are each running a ticket in one ward.

The full candidate list is at the bottom of this guide.

Assessment

Labor has traditionally held a majority on Blacktown council. The structure of five wards each electing three councillors tends to make it hard for independents and minor parties, and this combines with Labor’s traditional dominance over the Liberal Party to usually give them a majority. They lost that majority in 2012, but will only need to regain one seat to gain that majority back.

Labor will be hoping to unseat either independent Russ Dickens (who has backed Liberal mayors in the last term) or the Liberal candidate in Ward 3, where former Labor councillor Kathie Collins (who ran as an independent after losing preselection in 2012) has returned to run in the second seat. This would give Labor a majority.

Labor would also hold hopes of regaining a second seat in Ward 2, where they held two seats until 2012. This ward has become slightly stronger for Labor thanks to the redistribution.

Sitting councillor Jacqueline Donaldson will have a tough contest to hold her seat in Ward 4. The former Liberal is running in a strong area for Labor, and it’s hard to see Labor losing one of their two seats. It doesn’t seem inconceivable that the Liberal Party could end up winless in that ward if Donaldson can hold on to her vote.

2012 results

Party Votes % Swing Seats won
Labor 64,585 43.26 -6.0 7
Liberal 56,231 37.66 +8.3 7
Independents 21,781 14.59 -3.1 1
Greens 3,732 2.50 +0.3 0
Christian Democratic Party 2,047 1.37 +1.4 0
Australia First 931 0.62 -0.4 0

Vote breakdown by ward

The following two tables show the vote in each ward before and after the recent redistirbution. In addition to the results of the 2012 election for Labor, Liberal and others, the tables include an estimate of the two-party-preferred vote for Labor in that area at the 2013 federal election.

Labor’s vote was weakest in 2012 in wards 1 and 2, where the Liberal Party managed to win two seats in each ward. These are the weakest areas for Labor in federal elections, and before the election they were roughly equal. The redistribution made Labor’s position weaker in Ward 1 and stronger in Ward 2.

The ‘other’ vote is much higher in Ward 3 because of the presence of Russ Dickens and disendorsed Labor councillor Kathie Collins. This area is much stronger for Labor in federal elections than the first two wards, and with the return of Collins to the Labor ticket you’d expect the Labor vote to regain many of her votes.

Labor’s vote is very strong in wards 4 and 5, which cover the western parts of the council including areas around Mount Druitt. Labor won two out of three seats in these wards in 2012.

Pre-redistribution vote numbers

Voter group ALP % LIB % Other % ALP 2013 2PP
Ward 1 41.4 44.7 13.9 51.7
Ward 2 37.3 45.1 17.6 51.4
Ward 3 31.4 33.2 35.4 57.3
Ward 4 49.1 38.2 12.7 60.0
Ward 5 58.7 25.4 16.0 64.5

Post-redistribution vote numbers

Voter group ALP % LIB % Other % ALP 2013 2PP
Ward 1 36.9 47.5 15.6 49.4
Ward 2 40.5 42.6 16.8 53.8
Ward 3 32.6 33.1 34.3 57.3
Ward 4 49.3 38.5 12.3 59.8
Ward 5 58.7 25.4 16.0 64.5

Election results at the 2012 Blacktown City Council election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between primary votes for Labor, the Liberal Party and other candidates.

The following map shows the location of booths at the 2012 council election. Click on each booth to see the booth name and the vote for each party, including minor parties.

Candidates – Ward 1

  • A – Liberal
    1. Jess Diaz
    2. Walter Smith
    3. Claro Guinto
  • B – Labor
    1. Chris Quilkey
    2. Moninder Singh
    3. Mohammed Haroon
  • C – Kurt Hippe (Blacktown Residents Voice)
  • D – Yelda Chembirika

Candidates – Ward 2

  • A – Liberal
    1. Jaymes Diaz
    2. Joe Russo
    3. Magdy Sekla
  • B – Aaron Wright (Christian Democratic Party)
  • C – Chris Winslow (Greens)
  • D – Gino Belcastro (Blacktown Residents Voice)
  • E – Labor
    1. Leo Kelly
    2. Julie Griffiths
    3. Judy Thomas

Candidates – Ward 3

  • A – James Stojanovski (Blacktown Residents Voice)
  • B – Amelia Kerridge (Greens)
  • C – Liberal
    1. Frederick Brillo
    2. Nelchor Varquez
    3. Ferdie Sutrina
  • D – Russ Dickens
  • E – Labor
    1. Susai Benjamin
    2. Kathie Collins
    3. Satish Kumar
  • Ungrouped
    • Monir Monirul Islam

Candidates – Ward 4

  • A – Liberal
    1. Linda Santos
    2. Jackie Li
    3. Bill Krishna
  • B – Labor
    1. Stephen Bali
    2. Carol Israel
    3. David Villegas
  • C – Kittu Randhawa
  • D – Jacqueline Donaldson
  • Ungrouped
    • Ashish Kumar (Blacktown Residents Voice)
    • Helen Woods (Greens)

Candidates – Ward 5

  • A – Antony Lewis (Greens)
  • B – Cassie Orrock (Australia First)
  • C – Liberal
    1. Peter Camilleri
    2. Ricardo Signo
    3. Nilo Dera
  • D – Youssef Mohamed Hassan (Blacktown Residents Voice)
  • E – Labor
    1. Tony Bleasdale
    2. Brad Bunting
    3. Peter Clapham
  • Ungrouped
    • Ziya Zarifi

About the Author

Ben Raue is the founder and author of the Tally Room. If you like this post, please consider donating to support the Tally Room.