Ku-ring-gai council election, 2021

Ku-ring-gai council covers the upper north shore of Sydney, including the suburbs of Roseville, Lindfield, Killara, Gordon, Pymble, Turramurra, St Ives, Warrawee and Wahroonga.

The council has a population of about 127,000 people as of 2019.

Ku-ring-gai council is divided into five wards, with each ward electing two councillors.

Comenarra ward covers north-western parts of the council, including West Pymble, South Turramurra, and parts of Turramurra, Warrawee and Wahroonga. The ward’s north-eastern boundary follows the railway line through Turraumurra, Warrawee and Wahroonga.

Gordon ward covers central parts of the council, including Killara, Gordon and East Killara.

Roseville ward covers the southern end of the council, including Lindfield, Roseville, East Lindfield and Roseville Chase.

St Ives ward covers north-eastern parts of the council, including St Ives, St Ives Chase and the centre of Pymble.

Wahroonga ward covers eastern parts of Wahroonga, Turramurra and Warrawee, as well as North Turramurra and North Wahroonga.

Incumbent councillors

Comenarra Callum Clarke Jeff Pettett
Gordon Peter Kelly Cheryl Szatow
Roseville Jennifer Anderson Sam Ngai
St Ives Christine Kay1 Martin Smith
Wahroonga Donna Greenfield Cedric Spencer

1Christine Kay was elected at a by-election on 31 October 2018 after the resignation of David Citer.

The Ku-ring-gai area is very strong for the Liberal Party in state and federal elections, but the council is dominated by independents, with no major parties contesting local elections.

Each ward of Ku-ring-gai council elects two councillors. Prior to the 2012 election, these councillors were elected with a non-proportional system, where each candidate required a majority of the vote, and the votes of the first candidate were recycled to elect the second candidate. This produced a result where the two seats in each ward usually went to candidates running on the same ticket.

At the 2004 election, all five wards elected both candidates from the same ticket.

Adrienne Ryan was elected mayor in 2004, with Maureen Shelley elected as deputy mayor.

Elaine Malicki and Nick Ebbeck took over the council’s leadership in 2005, followed by Nick Ebbeck and Anita Andrew in 2006 and 2007. Over the course of the council term, councillors from four ward teams served as mayor or deputy mayor, with no candidate from St Ives team serving in a leadership role.

In 2008, all five wards elected a unified team. Elaine Malicki and Tony Hall were re-elected with new running mates in Comenarra and St Ives wards, while Nick Ebbeck and Tony Cross were re-elected in Wahroonga ward.

The incumbent councillors in Roseville ward retired, while Adrienne Ryan and Michael Lane were defeated for re-election.

In the 2008-2012 council, the mayoralty and deputy mayoralty were held exclusively by the councillors from the Comenarra, Roseville and Wahroonga wards. Elaine Malicki served as mayor from 2008 until 2010, followed by Ian Cross in 2010 and Jennifer Anderson in 2011. The deputy mayoralty was held by Jennifer Anderson and Elaine Malicki.

On the 2012-2017 council, the leadership was shared amongst five councillors, each of whom represents a different ward. Elaine Malicki was elected mayor in 2012 and deputy mayor in 2013. Cheryl Szatow was deputy mayor in 2012 and mayor in 2015. Jennifer Anderson was mayor in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Chantelle Fomari-Orsmond was deputy mayor in 2014, and David Ossip was deputy mayor in 2015 and 2016.

Only four councillors were re-elected in 2017. Pettett, Szatow and Anderson retained their seats, while David Citer shifted from Gordon to St Ives.

Citer stepped down in 2018 and the by-election was won by Christine Kay.

Jennifer Anderson defeated Cheryl Szatow for mayor in 2017, while Callum Clarke won a tied ballot against Jeff Pettett for deputy mayor. Pettett defeated Clarke 5-4 in 2018.

Anderson and Clarke were elected unopposed to the leadership in 2019.

The deputy mayoral election in 2020 was a tie between Cedric Spencer and Clarke, with the tie broken for Spencer.

The 2021 mayoral election was a tie, with five councillors voting for Anderson and five for Spencer. The tie was broken in Spencer’s favour.

Candidate summary
There has been an increase in the number of candidates running for Ku-ring-gai since 2017.

24 groups are running in Ku-ring-gai, up from 16 in 2017. That’s an average of 4.8 per ward.

All five councillors belonging to Cedric Spencer’s faction are running for re-election at the head of their group in their ward.

Of the five councillors in Jennifer Anderson’s faction, only two of them are running for re-election in a winnable spot – Anderson and Smith. Greenfield is running in the unwinnable second spot on her ticket, with Clarke and Szatow retiring.

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

No parties seriously contest Ku-ring-gai council. But a deadlock between two factions of five councillors each has developed since 2020. Each faction has one councillor in each ward.

The electoral system change before the 2012 election shook up how Ku-ring-gai council elections work. Prior to this time, unified tickets would win both seats in a ward. Now, a ticket cannot win more than one seat, which means that each team in each ward can only win one seat.

The current factions do not appear to have much relationship to how people vote. Only seven of the current councillors are seriously running for re-election and it seems likely the current deadlock will be disrupted with new councillors elected.

2017 results – Comenarra Ward

Group Votes % Quotas
Jeff Pettett 6,809 56.18 1.6854
Callum Clarke 5,310 43.82 1.3144
Informal 1,137

2017 results – Gordon Ward

Group Votes % Quotas
Cheryl Szatow 4,338 35.55 1.0661
Peter Kelly 3,579 29.33 0.8796
Greg Cook 2,354 19.29 0.5785
Rakesh Duncombe 1,933 15.84 0.4751
Informal 1,106

2017 results – Roseville Ward

Group Votes % Quotas
Sam Ngai 5,043 41.34 1.2400
Jennifer Anderson 3,083 25.27 0.7581
David Armstrong 2,529 20.73 0.6218
Chiming Shea 866 7.10 0.2129
Ungrouped 679 5.57 0.1670
Informal 953

2017 results – St Ives Ward

Group Votes % Quotas
David Citer 4,507 35.46 1.0635
Martin Smith 4,434 34.88 1.0462
Christine Kay 2,910 22.89 0.6866
Ungrouped 860 6.77 0.2029
Informal 1,017

2017 results – Wahroonga Ward

Group Votes % Quotas
Donna Greenfield 5,711 45.96 1.3785
Cedric Spencer 3,780 30.42 0.9124
John Cronly 2,936 23.63 0.7087
Informal 1,072

Candidates – Comenarra

  • A – Independent
    1. Cr Jeff Pettett
    2. Trish Lynch
  • B – Independent
    1. Gurdeep Singh
    2. Avtar Kaur
  • C – Independent
    1. Roshan Wickremanayake
    2. Shavera Gunasekera
    3. Cameron Smith
  • D – Independent
    1. Jayamala Gupte
    2. Kay Smede
  • E – Independent
    1. Boru Tumulty
    2. Ali Rabieli
  • F – Independent
    1. Greg Taylor
    2. Mackenzie Sloan

Candidates – Gordon

  • A – Independent
    1. Barbara Ward
    2. Mike Li
  • B – Independent
    1. Simon Lennon
    2. Philip Hext
  • C – Independent
    1. Cr Peter Kelly
    2. Anthony Carnovale
  • D – Independent
    1. Greg Cook
    2. Tori Huxtable

Candidates – Roseville

  • A – Independent
    1. Alec Taylor
    2. Shankari Nadanachandran
  • B – Independent
    1. Cr Sam Ngai
    2. Amanda Blackman
    3. Mitchell Frater-Baird
  • C – Independent
    1. Cr Jennifer Anderson
    2. Annelie Kvisle
  • D – Independent
    1. Anthony Ching
    2. Carmel Heffernan

Candidates – St Ives

  • A – Independent
    1. Cr Martin Smith
    2. Anna-Lisa Ryan
  • B – Independent
    1. Henry Song
    2. Joseph Audet
  • C – Independent
    1. Cr Christine Kay
    2. Alexia Silver
  • D – Independent
    1. Amanda Brien
    2. David Howard

Candidates – Wahroonga

  • A – Independent
    1. Cr Cedric Spencer
    2. Tony Pang
  • B – Independent
    1. Sarah Beresford
    2. Cr Donna Greenfield
  • C – Liberal Democrats
    1. Mitchell Strahan
    2. Nathaniel Bryan
  • D – Independent
    1. Adrienne McLean
    2. Elizabeth McLean
  • E – Independent
    1. Kim Wheatley
    2. Lisa Dixon
  • F – Independent
    1. Sheri Evans
    2. Anne Matheson

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  1. Latest word from the upcoming Town Hall Debate being run by the HK Post is that 2 candidates (one a current Councillor, the other a new candidate) are refusing to participate but have been trying to attend as a member of the general public.
    Furthermore, the two major protagonists for the Mayorality are rumoured not to be attending. From what I understand, one is a genuine apology, the other has simply not responded.
    I’ll leave it to everyone here to decide which is which.
    There is also word that the Friends of KRG and STEP are attempting to ambush the event.

  2. @Hawkeye_au thanks for the update. I honestly can’t predict this election and I am normally not fascinated in local politics this much, but have to say Ku-ring-gai has taken the cake. I would be curious to work out who actually attends. Perhaps you can post here after Monday night?

    I note that the next (and last for this term) council meeting scheduled is this Tuesday at 7pm, but in all honesty, don’t really except that one to go ahead. Anyone know if door-knocking is going on? Would be curious to see if the campaigns are avoiding the people or not. (Besides Adrienne who I saw posted earlier on here is having her meet and greets on Mondays.)

  3. So I can confirm that the following people will be participating as Candidates for the KRG Town Hall. These have been announced by the HK Post:
    *Simon Lennon
    *Amanda Brien
    *Christine Kay
    *Adrienne McLean
    *Sam Ngai
    *Greg Taylor
    *Alec Taylor
    *Greg Cook
    *David Howard
    *Jeff Pettett

    You will be able to follow this live on Facebook and Youtube through HK Post.

  4. @hawkeye_Au thanks! I tried finding it on HK Post but couldn’t see where it was announced. Indeed you’re right about the two main characters not being there will add a different dynamic. Curious, do you have the Hornsby list of candidates as well? (Seems more civil there and wanted to see if anyone misses that one.)

  5. If only WA local government elections were this saucy, and/or compulsory.
    A South Perth mayoral candidate verbally abused a 14 year-old (me) at an AFL Premiership Lunch and lost basically after it was put on Facebook.
    We also had the leader of the No Mandatory Vaccination Party run (and not win, thank god) on an anti-5G platform, which was seemingly the covid vaccine of 2019 for conspiracy theorists.
    They don’t get ugly because only 30% of people actually vote, and also because the Shire of Sandstone exists, with a population of 85 people. And six councillors, meaning that 7% of the LGA is on council.

  6. Well that was actually quite a civil engagement.. except for Beryl! Apologies came in from Cr Anderson, Kelly and Smith (apparently two due to family emergencies/health so understandable). No note from Cr Spencer. Based on watching and listening, I think Adrienne McLean has a high chance of getting into Wahroonga Ward.

    St Ives is going to be tricky to pick… Christine McKay held her own but was impressed with Amanda Brien’s delivery. Martin Smith has competition here!

    Jeff and Sam has a little jibe against each other (3 termer is better than new termers) and I can’t remember who it was that said if you spent $9mil and several years and still didn’t achieve the outcome, you don’t deserve to come back (a go at Jeff’s 3 termer is the most stable and best). I think Jeff and Sam did well and will get in. I think David Howard was the other good performer.

    In all in all a quite civil and robust night of discussion on topics such as Marion Street Theater, normal vs synthetic turf, conduct of council and a last bonus surprise question of candidates views on supporting Triple H.

    Would be interested to hear your take on it @Hawkeye_au (and @Ryan Spencer if you managed to listen)

  7. This meeting has come at the worst time for me because I’ve got school exams on but I’m sure I can squeeze it in while studying somewhere.

  8. By Ward:
    Comenarra – You would have expected it would be Jeff Pettet vs Greg Taylor but, as you rightfully said, Jeff went after Sam Ngai. Rather surprising in that regards but, certainly, you got the sense that Jeff wanted to go on the attack early. I thought Greg presented fairly well.

    Gordon – Only one in attendance was Greg Cook and he was my Best Performer. Showed a pretty wide range of knowledge and had a very good ability to engage. I think he has given himself a decent shout to spring an upset in Gordon. Simon Lennon did the best he could but was clearly short on narratives for issues and seemed a bit unprepared

    Roseville – Should have been Alec Taylor vs Sam Ngai but, as mentioned before, it turned into Ngai vs Pettet. Ngai showed plenty of knowledge but I found his delivery lacking, someone who would probably work better as a high-positioned official than a councillor. Alec Taylor was ok but seemed to struggle beyond what he main policy was (around the retention of Marian Street Theatre)

    St Ives – Christine Kay was quite measured in her performance (maybe a bit too polished) but Amanda Brien was one of my other surprise performers. Very warm and engaging. David Howard wasn’t bad either.

    Wahroonga – The big talk was around whether Cedric Spencer was going to attend. The chair in the middle was a cheeky addition and, given the circumstances, probably warranted. Sheri Evans appeared to try and pull a sneaky by lining up to ask a question but never turned up for it. Adrienne McLean, I’ve known as a very motherly figure through Radio but she came out of her shell in a big way.

    For mind, the big winner from this was Greg Cook while I though Sam Ngai was the big under-performer.

    In regards to Beryl, there were rumours that she was going to cause issues.

  9. I attended this event last night. Here’s my fly-on-the-wall report. I’ve had very little exposure to local politics, so I took it as it came!

    – Of 24 lead candidates nominating, only nine turned up. Of the absentees, only three sent apologies. One would ask how serious the absentees are to represent us. Asbentees included current mayor Cedric Spencer and former mayor Jennifer Anderson.
    – None of Cllr Anderson’s voting bloc attended. This is the bloc that failed to attend 7 straight council meetings since Anderson was deposed as mayor. Their claims that it was not a coordinated boycott only diminishes their standing further.
    – Due to the absences there was no obvious opportunity to ask questions about the elephant in the room – the totally dysfunctional council.
    – I was pleasantly surprised at the total absence of party politics and political posturing. Candidates generally spoke honestly in answer to the presubmitted questions. They were respectful to one another – totally unlike state and federal politics.
    – There was an obvious range of skill and experience levels. Most impressive for mine were Alec Taylor and Simon Lennon who spoke most lucidly and sensibly to the issues.
    – There were two younger single-issue candidates: Amanda Brien (issue: mental health services) and Greg Taylor (environmental concerns). There’s no reason why these people would not grow into the roles and broaden their scope.
    – Particularly impressive for me was Greg Taylor’s vision to bring Indigenous fire management into the LGA. Hazard reduction burns have been badly managed in the past and a new approach is desperately needed. Ku-ring-gai can lead change on this.
    – While there was much discussion about the cost of various projects, there was no mention of the state of the council’s finances. Are we rolling in money or are we broke? I’m none the wiser.
    – Apart from Greg Taylor there was little proactive interest in environmental sustainability. Disappointing. We should be a green council.
    – Two questions came from Natural Turf Alliance, campaigning against the proposed synthetic returfing of Norman Griffiths Oval. There are serious questions about cost and environmental impact. Nevertheless it appears council has now voted unanimously for the project to proceed. Despite extensive discussion, incumbents didn’t explain how these concerns figured in the rationale for their decision.
    – There was discussion about the council voting system. With 10 councillors the mayor currently gets the casting vote in the event of a tie. This particular council has been locked up 5-5 but hopefully we won’t be so unlucky in the next term. The preferred suggestion was to change the distribution from 5 wards of 2 councillors each to 3 wards of 3. This would not come into effect until 2028! The other aspect was the election of mayor by the council, and ties being resolved by pulling a name out of a hat! There was considerable support for a popularly elected mayor which happens in other adjoining councils.
    – There was little mention of conflict of interest on council, but which is a massive problem in local councils generally. The exception was the question about community radio station Triple H, in which Adrienne McLean (a triple H presenter) jovially declared her obvious conflict of interest before giving the station a big plug. Seriously: the council and the whole organisation need conflict of interest policies which are rigorously observed.
    – I believe this is the first event of its kind in this LGA. Full marks to Triple H and HK Post for organising it. Perhaps council should host these in future as a matter of course?

  10. @Hawkeye_au

    Good summation re: Gordon Ward – you forgot Simon Lennon was there. He didn’t do too badly and thought his answer on the last question about council function was well done.

    I didn’t see the empty chair as live stream only really showed the two lecterns to speak from. I wonder if HK Post will run with that shot!

  11. @Politics_obsessed – Can guarantee that HK Post have pictures of it on their Facebook Page with the Empty Chair clearly visible. Actually, It wasn’t empty. There was a sheet of paper that stated “Cedric Spencer” on it.

  12. Hi @Bruce Daniel. Pretty good summation all round. In terms of the situation with the Anderson bloc, we may never know but there does appear to be a trend there. Having said that, i don’t think it is a good look either that the mayor doesn’t even provide a response.

    In regards to Triple H, from what I do know, the situation is with the station that it has a community radio license predominantly for Hornsby and KRG. Currently, Hornsby allows the station to use Wallarobba arts centre at a discounted rent. KRG’s support is minimal but it looks like that question may open future dialog going forward.

    It should be noted as well that Christine Kay is a former board member as well.

  13. Breakdowns of HTV by Wards:
    Comenarra Ward – All Groups running a “Just Vote 1” Except for Group C and D (RoshanWickremanayake and Jayamala Gupte respectively) who exchanging preferences. Interestingly, both groups have recommended full allocation of preferences, where Jeff Pettit and Boru Tumulty have been placed in bottom 2 for both.

    Gordon Ward – Group A (Barbara Ward) has given 2nd preference to Simon Lennon but, interestingly, this has not been reciprocated. All other candidates are running a “Just Vote 1”

    Roseville Ward – Preference Exchange between Alec Taylor and Sam Ngai. Both Jennifer Anderson and Anthony Ching are running “Just Vote 1”

    St Ives Ward – Preference Exchange between Martin Smith and Amanda Brien. Preference Exchange between Harry Song and Christine Kay

    Wahroonga Ward – Preference Exchange between Cedric Spencer and Adrienne McLean. Preference Exchange between Sarah Beresford and Sheri Evans. Mitchel Strahan and Kim Wheatley both running “Just Vote 1”

  14. Well, call me an idiot for trying to predict this one but here we go. You can roast me later:
    Comenarra Ward – What was a 2-horse race last time has been diluted to 6 candidates. I think Jeff Pettet will still benefit from incumbency and I think will hang on for a quota in his own right. Who wins the 2nd seat? I honestly have no idea. Boru Tumulty didn’t turn up, Greg Taylor was ok but I’m not sure he will get much support (given his policies) and the others were no-shows.

    Gordon Ward – Will be close. Last election, there was only a couple of hundred votes between everyone. I think Kelly will benefit from incumbency but the 2nd seat is a toss-up

    Roseville Ward – Bit more of a slam dunk. Sam Ngai and Jennifer Anderson should easily retain their seats

    St Ives Ward – little bit of a shake-up with David Citer not standing. All the votes will likely be very close as the vote from David Citer shake up. Smith hangs on with a bare quota and toss up for Seat 2

    Wahroonga Ward – The dilution of votes from 3 to 6 means that Cedric Spencer is Vulnerable. He does have the benefit of incumbency but I think that is diulted significantly through this. I’m not calling this one at all!

  15. With all the Pre-Polls in, results are starting to look a lot clearer:
    Comenarra Ward: Jeff Pettit has a quota in his own right, while Greg Taylor looks odds on after preference exhaustion, to take the other seat.
    Gordon Ward: Barbara Ward has a quota in her own right. But the race is on for the 2nd seat between Greg Cook, Simon Lennon and Mike Li (Barbara Ward’s running mate). Simon Lennon leads Greg Cook but only by 30 votes. This will keep going.
    Roseville Ward: Sam Ngai has a quota in his own right. The race is on for the 2nd seat but Alec Taylor is currently in front. Only a strong preference flow will deny him. The big shock is that it is very likely that Jennifer Anderson is gone!
    St Ives Ward: Martin Smith has a quota in his own right. Christine Kay currently in 2nd place ahead of Anna-Lisa Ryan (Martin Smith’s Running Mate). Anna-Lisa needs a strong preference flow to overtake Christine Kay
    Wahroonga Ward: Kim Wheatley is the closest to a quota (0.92) but will have enough to get elected. Cedric Spencer is in front for the 2nd seat but there is a lot to play for here, with plenty of candidates and a lot to come with preferences.

  16. Hawkeye, I wonder if the loss of support for Jennifer Anderson is due to her ‘opposition’ influence by blocking the elected faction/group of Cedric Spencer. Then again, some of her faction members also managed to poll well, particularly Martin Smith.

  17. @Yoh An – I wouldn’t put it out of the question. However, what is interesting is that the strongest performers on election night have also been the ones who attended that ‘Meet the Candidates’ night. Jeff Pettit, Greg Taylor, Sam Ngai, Amanda Brien and Greg Cook all had strong performances off the back of their appearances.

  18. Hawkeye, agree that for NSW/Sydney local council areas, being seen in the community and participating in these ‘forum’ events is critical for winning elections. I actually prefer the more local feel for council areas in Sydney, with a range of independents as well as the major parties and also multi member wards where councillors can really get out and interact with the community. Unlike in Brisbane with single member wards, which pretty much functions as a mini state legislature even though councillors do make the effort to have some community interactions.

  19. Hello Hawkeye_au,
    I know the election is over but may I correct an error in your message of 28 November 2021. I did reciprocate. In all my election material and all my posters I said vote [1] Group B and [2] Group A.
    Thanks, Simon

  20. Hi Simon, Not a problem. Happy to stand correct 🙂

    Well the results are in now for KRG and the results were fascinating, to say the very least:
    Comenarra Ward: Jeff Pettett elected in his own right, while Greg Taylor was never troubled for 2nd place
    Gordon Ward: This was close. Barbara Ward elected in her own right, while Simon Lennon managed to take the 2nd seat through a combination of preference exhaustion and a strong flow of preferences from Mike Li (who was that very Preference swap with Group A)
    Roseville Ward: Sam Ngai re-elected in his own right, while Alec Taylor has dis-placed Jennifer Anderson on the back of preferences from Sam Ngai’s running mate, Amanda Blackman. This is a big result!
    St Ives Ward: Martin Smith re-elected in his own right while Christine Kay won the 2nd seat, inflating the gap over Anna-Lisa Ryan with preferences from Henry Song
    Wahroonga Ward: Both Kim Wheatley and Cedric Spencer were elected without either achieving a quota. In fact, both were only elected due to the amazingly high exhaustion rate from Mitchell Strahan. Of his 1890 votes, all but 332 exhausted.

    As discussed elsewhere, this has destroyed the Anderson Faction but the big winner from this was actually Sam Ngai. IMO, I don’t think Cedric Spencer has much strength left in him.

  21. Breaking news from The Post!
    Jeff Pettet has become the new mayor of KRG Council, with Barbara Ward the new Deputy Mayor.
    Cedric Spencer, I believe, has now become the mayor for the shortest term in the history of KRG Council, at 3 andf a half months.
    The previous record was set by George Christie, at a touch under 5 months, from 22nd September 1928 to 19th March 1929.
    I’m not surprised that Cedric Spencer lost the mayoralty (his results were appauling) but I am very surprised that Sam Ngai didn’t even get deputy Mayor.

  22. Shame about Cedric losing the Mayoralty, he was an old lecturer of mine back at ACU and really knew his stuff when it came to Corp Tax Law and Governance. I think he’s often a much misunderstood character in the prism of Ku-ring-gai Council- he doesn’t suffer fools and was genuinely trying to reform parts of the council by getting rid of a lot of the dead weight, which unfortunately saddles many local governments.
    As is often the case, when you are attempting reform and people’s roles/position/power is threatened, aspersions are cast- particularly racial undertones directed towards Cedric who was one of, if not the only non-Anglo on Council.
    He is extremely transparent, and I’m sure if Ben decides to do another podcast would be more than willing to discuss the inner and outer workings of council, running a campaign, etc…


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