Inner West council election, 2021

The Inner West council covers suburbs immediately to the west of the Sydney city centre. The council is bounded by the Cooks River in the south and is bounded by Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River in the north, on the shoreline of the Balmain peninsula.

The council covers the suburbs of Annandale, Ashfield, Balmain, Dulwich Hill, Enmore, Haberfield, Leichhardt, Lilyfield, Marrickville, Petersham, Rozelle, Stanmore, St Peters, Summer Hill, Sydenham, Tempe and parts of Croydon, Camperdown and Newtown. The council has a population of about 201,000 as of 2019.

Inner West is divided into five wards, with each ward electing three councillors.

Ashfield-Djarrawunang ward covers the south-western corner of the council, including Dulwich Hill, Summer Hill and southern parts of Ashfield. The ward is bounded by Wardell Road to the south-east, by the light rail line and Parramatta Road to the north-east, and the north-eastern boundary (which divides the suburb of Ashfield) runs along the railway line.

Balmain-Baludarri ward covers the northernmost part of the council, including all of the peninsula of the same name. The ward covers the suburbs of Balmain, Rozelle, Lilyfield and the northern parts of Annandale. The ward’s southern boundary runs along Booth St, Moore St, Balmain Road and the City West Link.

Leichhardt-Gulgadya ward covers those suburbs on the north side of Parramatta Road, as well as northern parts of Ashfield. The ward covers the suburbs of Haberfield, Leichhardt and parts of Ashfield and Annandale. The border runs through Annandale along Moore St and Booth St, while Ashfield is split along the railway line.

Marrickville-Midjuburi ward covers the south-eastern corner of the council, including Marrickville, St Peters, Sydenham and Tempe. The ward is bounded by Wardell Road to the west, Newington Road to the north and Edgware Road and Wells St to the north-east.

Stanmore-Damun ward covers the the centre of the council, and its eastern edge. The ward covers the suburbs of Enmore, Lewisham, Petersham, Stanmore and those parts of Camperdown and Newtown to the west of King Street.

No changes were made to the boundaries of wards, but the names were changed. The wards were previously named after suburbs, but they are now co-named with local Aboriginal words, specifically:

  • Ashfield – Djarrawunang (Magpie)
  • Balmain – Baludarri (Leather Jacket)
  • Leichhardt – Gulgadya (Grass Tree)
  • Marrickville – Midjuburi (Lillypilly)
  • Stanmore – Damun (Port Jackson Fig)

Incumbent councillors

Ashfield-Djarrawunang Mark Drury (Labor) Tom Kiat (Greens) Julie Passas (Liberal)
Balmain-Baludarri Darcy Byrne (Labor) Rochelle Porteous (Greens) John Stamolis (Independent)
Leichhardt-Gulgadya Marghanita Da Cruz (Greens) Lucille Mckenna (Labor) Vittoria Raciti (Liberal)
Marrickville-Midjuburi Colin Hesse (Greens) Sam Iskandar (Labor) Victor Macri (Independent)
Stanmore-Damun Pauline Lockie (Independent) Louise Steer (Greens) Anna York (Labor)

Inner West Council was created out of a merger of Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils in 2016. The 2017 guide covers the previous history of these three councils and how much of the new council came from its predecessors.

These three councils had a long history of being governed singlehandedly by Labor, but by the 1990s that hold was starting to slip. Marrickville and Leichhardt in particular were strongholds for the Greens, although the Greens also did well on occasion in Ashfield.

In 2004, the Greens won five seats in Marrickville, four in Leichhardt and three in Ashfield.

Around this time, Labor, the Liberal Party and local independents began to forge anti-Greens alliances. Alliances like this one led Leichhardt throughout the term and led Marrickville for part of the term, with a Greens/independent alliance alternating in power depending on the draw of the hat. The first Liberal mayor of Leichhardt took the reins in 2005, serving between two Labor mayoral terms. The draw of the hat saw the first Greens mayor of Marrickville in 2005.

An alliance of Labor and independents also ran Ashfield, but without such a clear anti-Greens positioning.

The 2008 election was status quo in Ashfield and Marrickville, while the Greens won six out of twelve seats in Leichhardt, giving them a working majority. The Greens’ Jamie Parker took the mayoralty until he was elected as the state MP for Balmain in 2011, when he was succeeded by Rochelle Porteous.

The 2012 election was a good one for the right and a bad one for the Greens across the three councils. The Greens were reduced to four seats each in Leichhardt and Marrickville, and were wiped out in Ashfield. The first Liberals were elected in Marrickville, and a Labor/Liberal/independent coalition had a clear majority in Marrickville.

Labor and the Greens formed an alliance in Leichhardt, with Labor’s Darcy Byrne and the Greens’ Rochelle Porteous alternating in the mayoralty.

The Liberals were also strengthened in Ashfield but remained in opposition, with a governing alliance of Labor and independents still running the show.

The three councils were amalgamated to form the Inner West Council in 2016.

The first Inner West Council election in 2017 saw both Labor and Greens win five seats each, along with two Liberals and three independents. Those three independents included Vic Macri, a conservative councillor who had previously allied with Labor in Marrickville, John Stamolis, a centre-left councillor who had previously allied with the Greens in Leichhardt, and Pauline Lockie, a first-time left-wing independent councillor.

This gave an alliance of Labor, Liberal and Vic Macri an 8-7 majority in the first mayoral and deputy mayoral election. Labor’s Darcy Byrne has served as mayor for the last four years, with Liberals (Julie Passas and Vittoria Raciti) taking the deputy mayoralty for two years, and independent Vic Macri taking the mayoralty in the other year.

The 8-7 majority has not remained entirely solid. John Stamolis, who supported the Greens over Labor in 2017, has chosen to abstain on occasion and voted for Macri for deputy mayor in 2020.

Candidate summary
Labor and the Greens are running full tickets across the council. Just one of the five incumbent Greens councillors are running for re-election in a winnable spot. Just two of the five Labor councillors are doing the same.

The Liberal Party is not running officially. Both incumbent Liberal councillors are running for re-election as independents. Vera-Ann Hannaford, a former Liberal councillor on the former Leichhardt council, is challenging incumbent Liberal councillor Vittoria Raciti in the Leichhardt ward.

All three independent councillors are running for re-election in their wards.

Another four independent tickets are running, in addition to those mentioned above. That includes former Ashfield councillor Morris Mansour.

The Animal Justice Party and Socialist Alliance are each running in one ward.

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

The last four years on Inner West Council have divided into an alliance of eight versus an alliance of six or seven, with John Stamolis a not-quite-solid member of the minority alliance.

It would not take much to upset this alliance. The Labor/Liberal/Macri alliance won three out of five seats in the Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville wards. The final count in Marrickville was particularly close, with Macri defeating fellow independent Victoria Pye by 162 votes (0.8% of the total formal vote). While Pye was an untested candidate, she would have almost certainly been more open to working with the Greens. There would not have been a solid eight-vote anti-Greens majority.

So Macri’s seat could be in play, but the absence of a progressive independent in his ward makes his position more secure. There is no prospect of a gain for the Greens or a friendly independent in Ashfield ward, but there may be a prospect of gaining a seat off the Liberals in Leichhardt.

There may be prospects for other change within the coalitions.

Labor’s second candidate came within 1465 votes of defeating Liberal Julie Passas in the Ashfield ward. Passas has been a controversial councillor and could be vulnerable to replacement by the second Labor candidate or by conservative independent Morris Mansour.

There is an intra-Liberal fight for the final seat in Leichhardt ward, but it could conceivably fall to Labor or the Greens.

The Greens could theoretically pick up enough votes to win a second seat in Stanmore ward at the expense of progressive independent Pauline Lockie, but it doesn’t seem like the Greens have much reason to try and take that seat and I think Lockie is probably safe.

It is very hard to see Labor or the Greens dropping below five seats, or reaching the eight seats necessary for a single-party majority.

If the current majority coalition drops below eight, this may result in a Greens/independent coalition taking over, but it could also lead to a power-sharing deal between Labor and the Greens, as occurred in Leichhardt between 2012 and 2016.

2017 results

Party Votes % Swing Seats won
Labor 33,876 33.89 +3.2 5
Greens 28,815 28.83 +1.3 5
Independents 19,707 19.72 +0.6 3
Liberal 17,549 17.56 -4.7 2
Informal 4,216 4.05

Vote breakdown by ward
The following table shows the vote in each ward.

Labor topped the primary vote in four wards, with a vote ranging from 29.4% in Stanmore to 42.9% in Balmain.

The Greens topped the primary vote in Stanmore, with a vote ranging from 22.3% in Balmain to 33.6% in Stanmore.

The Liberal primary vote ranged from 9.3% in Marrickville to 27.5% in Leichhardt. The Liberals won two seats in the Ashfield and Leichhardt wards.

I have also identified six independents who polled a substantial part of the vote. Two of these independents are clearly of the right: Morris Mansour in Ashfield and Vic Macri in Marrickville. The other four are generally more willing to work with the Greens, or seemed so in 2017: John Stamolis in Balmain, John Lozano in Leichhardt, Victoria Pye in Marrickville and Pauline Lockie in Stanmore.

Each of these candidates polled over 10% in their ward, with those polling over 16% winning a seat.

Voter group ALP % GRN % LIB % L_I % R_I %
Ashfield-Djarrawunang 34.6 32.7 20.3 0.0 10.3
Balmain-Baludarri 42.9 22.3 17.5 17.3 0.0
Leichhardt-Gulgadya 31.7 27.4 27.5 12.7 0.0
Marrickville-Midjuburi 30.3 28.6 9.3 15.1 16.7
Stanmore-Damun 29.4 33.6 12.8 18.0 0.0

Election results at the 2017 Inner West Council election

Toggle between primary votes for Labor, the Greens, the Liberal Party, and various independent candidates.

Candidates – Ashfield-Djarrawunang

  • A – Independent
    1. Morris Mansour
    2. Cronia Mansour
    3. Michael Becher
  • B – Greens
    1. Dylan Griffiths
    2. Shilpa Rajkumar
    3. Cr Thomas Kiat
  • C – Independent
    1. Peter Dixon
    2. Cheryl Borsak
    3. Faye Flint
  • D – Labor
    1. Cr Mark Drury
    2. Jessica D’Arienzo
    3. Christopher Payne
  • E – Independent Liberal
    1. Cr Julie Passas
    2. Philip Allison
    3. Bill Passas

Candidates – Balmain-Baludarri

  • A – Independent
    1. Wenjie Zhang
    2. Funing Guo
    3. Jie Yao
  • B – Independent
    1. Cr John Stamolis
    2. Tracey Brooks
    3. Kathleen Hacking
  • C – Greens
    1. Kobi Shetty
    2. Michael Davis
    3. Jenny Barron
  • D – Labor
    1. Cr Darcy Byrne
    2. Adele Tahan
    3. Jack Whitney
  • E – Independent
    1. Jack Robertson
    2. Nav Brah
    3. Graeme McDowell

Candidates – Leichhardt-Galgadya

  • A – Greens
    1. Cr Marghanita Da Cruz
    2. Timothy Suttie
    3. Brooke Richards
  • B – Labor
    1. Philippa Scott
    2. Timothy Stephens
    3. Helen Gibson
  • C – Independent Liberal
    1. Cr Vittoria Raciti
    2. Vivian Fezzuoglio
    3. Adamo Raciti
  • D – Independent
    1. Vera-Ann Hannaford
    2. Ken Hannaford
    3. Craig Bleifnick
  • E – Animal Justice
    1. Michael Dello-Iacovo
    2. Teresa Romanovsky
    3. Linda Paull

Candidates – Marrickville-Midjuburi

  • A – Labor
    1. Mat Howard
    2. Zoi Tsardoulias
    3. Katherine Hudson
  • B – Greens
    1. Justine Langford
    2. Marika Kontellis
    3. Cr Colin Hesse
  • C – Independent
    1. Cr Victor Macri
    2. Melinda Dimitriades
    3. Vincent Randazzo

Candidates – Stanmore-Damun

  • A – Independent
    1. Cr Pauline Lockie
    2. Sandra Triulzi
    3. Jason Mountney
  • B – Greens
    1. Liz Atkins
    2. Rob Shield
    3. Alex van Vucht
  • C – Labor
    1. Chloe Smith
    2. Sarah Hunt
    3. Jemima Tilly
  • D – Socialist Alliance
    1. Pip Hinman
    2. Markela Panegyres
    3. Steffi Leedham
  • Ungrouped
    • Daniel Ribarovski (Independent)

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  1. If the Liberals got their act together in the Balmain Ward, and ran a half-decent campaign, they could pick up a seat here. John Stamolis edged out the Liberal candidate for the last seat by a margin of just 210 votes last time (3969 to 3759). The aggregate Liberal primary vote was higher than the Stamolis vote (3644 to 3593). And yet the Liberals did next to nothing – I never saw a candidate, never received anything in the letterbox, and only saw a handful of posters about a day before. Imagine if they actually ran a campaign!

  2. Kinda hard for a party like Greens or Labor to improve from their starting point of 1 in each district.

    STV tends to have primary votes pool with your top candidate from a party. You might win a seats from 0.7 quotas, but the same party with 1.4 quotas is comparatively unlikely to win the 2nd seat.

    Either they need extremely concerted campaigns for a 2nd candidate that eats into the incumbents vote and gets them below a quota (a la Greens candidate Rebecca Vassarotti in Kurrajong), or just rely on off ticket “independents” as the pathway to a 2nd seat.

  3. Darebin 2016, the peak of Greens popularity there, elected 2 Greens and a former Green independent as the 3 councillors for a ward. Greens also got 2 in mutile 3 member Yarra wards last year and now have a Green majority government.

    I think the Greens pitch works better at the local government level with the Victorian Greens winning single member wards last year in areas they aren’t even remotely competitive in federally.

    All that to say I wouldn’t rule out 2 Greens winning in a ward, though it’s a tall order

  4. That’s happened a number of times in the old councils in this area. The Greens held two seats in the North ward (Newtown) of Marrickville from 2004-2012.

    They also won 2/3 councillors in two wards of Leichhardt Council in 2008, giving them 6/12 seats total.

  5. Hi Ben. Just advising you that I am running as a ‘Community Independent’ candidate for the IWC in the Balmain-Baludarri ward. (Group ticket but my running mates are essentially research/advisory/support to my campaigning.) If you or any Tally Room subscribers would like to know more about me, my views and why I’m running, my anchor website is here.

    Thanks for your work at the TR, always a fabulous way to follow elections. Will be a curious experience following one from the inside!

  6. I find it oblivious that Labor and the Greens aren’t working together. Why aren’t they? You would think 2 progressive parties with almost the same causes would work together. Why would the Libs support a grand coalition over their traditional rival Labor?

  7. Ah, Daniel, there is a loooooong and (dis)honourable tradition of red-on-red-and/or-green fratricide here in wicker basket land. Inner West progressive politics manifests a version of the old adage about academic debates: when the stakes are at their lowest and the differences their most slender…the fightin’s at its most vicious and destructive!

    As for the Libs’ motivation, another old saw will suit: Divide and Conquer. I imagine that once again the Tories’ll kick a half-comatose candidate out of bed at about two-minutes-before-polls-open, and as they did last time, will still pull several thou’ first prefs anyway…

  8. In addition to Jack’s observation on the low stakes/small differences, the other feature of the Green vote (not so much the Councillors, but their voter base) is the “green on the outside, blue on the inside” phenomenon. Particularly in the wealthier Balmain, Birchgrove, Annandale areas, it’s an evolutionary step in gentrification where you’ll find Green voters who’ll sooner have a local pub shut down than patronise the venue, and certainly plenty who will vote Green for council and maybe state, but Liberal federally. OR, they’ll find a conservative independent who will block DAs and preference the Greens (even better than having to cross that threshold from blue to green!). This is less so in the Newtown/Marrickville area with the younger demographic, where the candidates and their voters are more typecast.

    My humble observations as a long-time local, for what it’s worth.

  9. Hi Luke and Jack, why is caring about the environment a right / left thing? Have you read the Greens economic policies, a lot of it is market based. For things where market failure is evident then you need govt intervention, regulation isn’t bad, bad regulation is bad.

  10. I wholeheartedly agree, Franky, but it’s not me and it’s not many others across the partisan divide making it a left/right thing. In this LGA it’s not even the LNP forming one half of any such divide (as is usual elsewhere).

    It’s the internecine warfare of the Left – ALP and Greens – that is sharpening CC as an ideologically polarised issue.

    One of the reasons I’m standing as an Indy is precisely to be able to combine my private sector/corporate experience in RE with my public policy/NGO experience in urban cooling/greening and sustainable urban water management…without silly partisan/ideological loyalties getting in the way.

  11. I’ve been looking at other councils, and it seems the Mayor/Deputy-Mayor elections across Sydney had some interesting results (Ku-ring-gai comes to mind, Hornsby with surprise Labor voting with Lib) and now this one. A bit late to the party but here’s the link:

    So if I’m reading it right, the new Green Mayor is serving for 3 months and not re-contesting… I guess this is another council come election night that’ll need a good bucket of popcorn!

    Jack Roberston – thanks for the informative information. You might want to update your website to reflect the updated council election date.

  12. You have Hannaford down as a Liberal Independent.
    She has advised that she resigned from the Liberal Party quite a few years ago.
    Maybe you could set the record straight?

  13. So much for my comment (back in May) “if the Liberals got their act together” – they are not even trying! Those in the know will recognise Wenjie Zhang as Liberal candidate last Council elections, and last State election, but I’m sure that’s only a tiny number. Not being endorsed will mean even less votes as the traditional Liberal votes (not that there are many around here) scatter. They have just given John Stamolis the easiest win of his political career so far. Balmain/Baludarri Ward will elect 1) Byrne, 2) Shetty, 3) Stamolis. That’s my prediction.

  14. I can’t imagine what sort of incentive the Liberals have running anywhere in the Inner West that doesn’t boil down to a very small handful of opportunities for patronage. Greener pastures abound in Sydney, that are much easier to salt and soil and overdevelop.

  15. Ashfield ward is going to be interesting to watch, The booths closest to Hurlstone park and Ashbury favouring the greens in neighbouring Canterbury Bankstown might be affected by the lack of greens support towards the west in Canterbury ward. It’s Hard to say and know if that spill will affect Inner west council. The only greens councillor in C/B was popular because of incumbency & Greens only managed to scrape through and a seat in C/B because of labor preferences against independents. Independents might take away some of the Greens vote there

  16. Good to see that Hannaford in the Leichhardt Ward is now described as an Independent!
    Thanks for that correction 🙂

    I’m wondering where the groups preferences are published?

  17. Watched “Rats in the Ranks” doco last week – can be found on youtube. Absolute classic and council stills seems as diverse as back in 1995.

    Incidentally, Albo showed great political nous refusing to be filmed when he came down from Sussex St to sort out the Labor councilors’ mess in Leichardt. To think Albo could have been a movie star but instead he is favourite to be the next PM (at least according to the polls and betting shops who were both way off at the last Federal election).

    Best Pollster

  18. Well that was a trip. Very rewarding and instructive to have a go as an Independent, I’d recommend it to everyone. ??

    It looks the status quo in Balmain-Baludarri will obtain. Am hoping to sneak up to 5% by the finish. A pretty tough task for first-time Indys given the restrictions on campaign face-to-face opportunities over lock-down, and especially the no-HTV ruling proximate to the booths, pre-poll and on the day.

    Ben, your dedication to LG coverage is as always a fine thing, on ya.

  19. The weirdist count I have ever seen. Demerge results in Summer Hill. Summer Hill Comm Cntr 801 Yes 284 No; Summer Hill Public 514 Yes 785 No. This makes Summer Hill Community Centre the most pro-demerge booth in the Inner West and 400 metres away Summer Hill Public School the most pro status quo. Neither makes sense. Must be one, probably two, errors here.


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