The Hills council election, 2021

The Hills cover north-western suburbs of Sydney. The council stretches from Baulkham Hills in the south to Wisemans Ferry in the north, and also covers Castle Hill, Bella Vista, Kellyville, Glenhaven, Beaumont Hills, Annangrove, Kenthurst, Nelson and Maroota.

The council has a population of about 178,000 as of 2019.

The Hills is divided into four wards, with each ward electing three councillors.

Central ward covers northern parts of Kellyville and Kellyville North.

East ward covers eastern parts of Baulkham Hills, parts of West Pennant Hills and parts of Castle Hill.

North ward covers most of the council’s land mass, including Beaumont Hills, Glenhaven, Annangrove, Kenthurst and Maroota.

West ward covers Bella Vista and the remainder of Kellyville.

The Central and East wards shifted north, taking in territory from the North ward, while there was no change to the West ward.

The East ward took in part of Castle Hill from the Central ward, which then took North Kellyville from the North ward (and lost part of Glenhaven).

Incumbent mayor
Michelle Byrne (Liberal)

Incumbent councillors

Central Frank De Masi (Liberal) Tony Hay (Labor) Elizabeth Russo (Liberal)
East Alan Haselden (Liberal) Ryan Tracey (Labor) Samuel Uno (Liberal)
North Brooke Collins (Liberal) Peter Gangemi (Liberal) Vacant (Liberal)1
West Jacob Jackson (Liberal)2 Reena Jethi (Liberal) Mike Thomas (Liberal)

1Robyn Preston resigned from council in early 2021 after being elected as the state member for Hawkesbury in 2019.

2Jacob Jackson was elected at a by-election on 28 July 2018 after the resignation of Labor councillor Raymond Harty.

The Hills Shire (previously known as Baulkham Hills Shire) has traditionally been dominated by independents, but the area has long been dominated by the Liberal Party at other levels of government.

The 2004 election saw three Labor councillors elected, and two Community First councillors. Six independents were elected, along with one councillor on the Protect Our Garden Shire ticket. The Liberal Party did not contest the election, but four of those six independents went on to stand for the Liberal Party at other elections.

The Liberal Party first ran official candidates for Baulkham Hills in 2008, and swept into power in a landslide. The Liberal Party won two out of three seats in all four wards, with the remaining seat in each ward going to the Labor Party. This wiped out the independents, and produced a council with eight Liberal and four Labor councillors.

The 2012 election saw the Liberal Party improbably gain even further ground, winning all three seats in the North ward, for a total of nine seats on the council. The other three seats went to Labor. A referendum was passed in 2012 creating a directly elected mayoralty, to be first elected at the next election.

The southern end of the council (containing areas south of the M2) were transferred to the City of Parramatta in 2016.

The 2017 election was the first election where The Hills directly elected the mayor, in addition to the twelve other councillors. The Liberal Party’s Michelle Byrne, who had previously served two years as mayor, was elected mayor with almost 62% of the vote.

There was a 6% swing against the Liberal Party on council but it made no difference to the seat count, with the Liberals holding their nine seats against three for Labor.

Candidate summary

The Liberal Party and the Greens are running full tickets. Labor is running for mayor and in three out of four wards.

Just three out of ten Liberal councillors are running for re-election after the party replaced Michelle Byrne with Peter Gangemi as their mayoral candidate and replaced many other candidates.

Both of the sitting Labor councillors are running for re-election.

While there are some ungrouped independents, there are no groups outside of the three parties mentioned above.

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

The Hills is a very strong council for the Liberal Party. It’s hard to see the Liberal Party losing the mayoralty or coming close to losing their majority.

Labor could potentially pick up a fourth seat in the North ward if the Liberal vote drops, but the redistribution has made this task more difficult. It’s also not too hard to imagine Labor losing a seat in the Central or East wards.

If this council were to become more balanced and not so dominated by the Liberal Party, it would likely take place through the resurgence of independent candidates, and maybe even an independent faction in opposition to the Liberals. Those groups exist in numerous other conservative councils, but they are not to be seen in the Hills.

2017 council election result

Party Votes % Swing Seats won
Liberal 52,960 62.52 -5.7 9
Labor 19,607 23.15 +2.8 3
Independents 5,082 6.00 +6.0
Building Australia Party 4,761 5.62 +1.2
Greens 2,297 2.71 +0.8
Informal 5,730 6.34

2017 mayoral election result

Candidate Party Votes %
Michelle Byrne Liberal 53,409 61.78
Tony Hay Labor 18,626 21.54
Jeff Lowe Independent 9,704 11.22
Ray Brown Building Australia Party 4,715 5.45
Informal 3,847 4.26

Vote breakdown by ward
The following tables show the vote in each ward before and after the recent redistribution, for council and for mayor.

The Liberal Party won large majorities in all four wards, ranging from 57.9% in the East ward to 70.7% in the North ward.

The Labor vote ranged from 19.1% in the North to 31.4% in the West.

The Liberal mayoral vote was a bit more even, ranging from 59.2% in the East ward to 67% in the North ward.

The redistribution improved the Liberal position in the Central and North wards, but slightly weakened their position in the East ward.

Council results by 2017 ward

Ward LIB % ALP % Others %
Central 58.8 22.0 19.1
East 57.9 20.3 21.8
North 70.7 19.1 10.2
West 62.2 31.4 6.4

Mayoral results by 2017 ward

Ward LIB % ALP % Lowe %
Central 60.2 20.8 12.7
East 59.2 23.2 12.9
North 67.0 17.6 9.7
West 60.4 24.8 9.7

Council results by 2021 ward

Ward LIB % ALP % Others %
Central 60.9 22.4 16.7
East 57.0 20.7 22.4
North 71.5 18.0 10.5
West 62.2 31.4 6.4

Mayoral results by 2021 ward

Ward LIB % ALP % Lowe %
The Hills Central 61.8 20.9 10.8
The Hills East 58.3 23.2 13.9
The Hills North 67.5 16.8 10.0
The Hills West 60.4 24.8 9.7

Election results at the 2017 Hills Shire election
Toggle between primary votes for the Liberal Party and Labor.

Election results at the 2017 Hills Shire mayoral election
Toggle between primary votes for Michelle Byrne, Tony Hay and Jeff Lowe.

Candidates – Mayor

  • Vida Shahamat (Greens)
  • Cr Peter Gangemi (Liberal)
  • George Rozycki (Independent)
  • Cr Ryan Tracey (Labor)
  • Alexia Yazdani (Independent)

Candidates – Central

  • A – Greens
    1. Vida Shahamat
    2. Seyed Hosseinipour
    3. Denice Finnegan
  • B – Liberal
    1. Jessica Brazier
    2. Mark Hodges
    3. Jagmohan Dhaliwal
  • C – Labor
    1. Cr Tony Hay
    2. Tina Cartwright
    3. Steve Marks
  • Ungrouped
    • Amir Soreh (Independent)
    • Curtis Kraus (Liberal Democrats)

Candidates – East

  • A – Labor
    1. Cr Ryan Tracey
    2. Carol Chan
    3. Christopher Worthington
  • B – Liberal
    1. Jerome Cox
    2. Cr Reena Jethi
    3. Raylee Hodges
  • C – Greens
    1. Erica Hockley
    2. Catherine Woolnough
    3. Ghazaleh Zabihi Aali
  • Ungrouped
    • Guitang Lu (Independent)

Candidates – North

  • A – Greens
    1. Mila Kasby
    2. Danielle Packer
    3. Paul Harvey
  • B – Liberal
    1. Cr Peter Gangemi
    2. Virginia Ellis
    3. Mitchell Blue
    4. Rory O’Connor
  • Ungrouped
    • George Rozycki (Independent)

Candidates – West

  • A – Greens
    1. Daniel Pehlivan
    2. Matthew Cox
    3. Soodeh Memari
  • B – Labor
    1. Barbara Burton
    2. Alex Karki
    3. Monika Tracey
  • C – Liberal
    1. Rosemarie Boneham
    2. Cr Frank De Masi
    3. Terrisa Murray
  • Ungrouped
    • Tiger Liu (Independent)

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  1. Hills residents: Complain profusively about “overdevelopment” approved by Liberal councillors and opposed by everyone else.

    Also Hills residents: Overwhelmingly vote for Liberal councillors.

  2. Labor will likely be reduced to a single seat at this stage with recent events with the state party and COVID helping governments right around the country. I was mistaken about Chris Minns being on the left and I apologise for misleading. But he still doesn’t have any sort of charisma former leaders have. NSW Labor needs a Kevin Rudd at this stage to save them from annihilation in local,state and federal elections in NSW. This isn’t about the bush anymore because Labor is losing ground in Sydney and surroundings.

    I do hope this is a wake up call for the party but the Liberals should never be complacent about this region or any for that matter, If the Liberals do lose this council it will be to a Clover Moore/Your Northern Beaches style independents. But not to Labor. Perhaps there is a small chance the Greens could win a seat here meaning 1 ALP 1 GRN and 10 LIBS.

    Michelle Bryne to be EASILY re-elected if she runs

  3. I thought I’d take a look at The Hills Council to see who had registered to campaign here. Couldn’t find any of the Liberals, but then again, with such a strong voting area, you wouldn’t really need to campaign. They’ll probably just nominate and go straight into automatic registration mode. (The lists below are based on 21/10 data at last update, so any new ones put through on 22/10 I can’t see yet.)

    Central Ward:
    No Group: Curtis Kraus [Affiliation: Liberal Democratic Party], Amir Soreh, Christian Wright

    East Ward:
    Group: Labor
    Candidates: Ryan Tracey (Councillor), Carol Chan, Christopher Worthington

    No Group: Guitang Lu

    North Ward:
    No Group: Jerzy Rozycki, Matthew Smith [Affiliation: Labor Party]

    West Ward:
    Group: Labor
    Candidates: Barbara Burton, Alex Karki, Monika Tracey

    No Group: Tiger Liu

    Again, these are just the registrations received and not nominations. There could be more who have declared their hand, but I haven’t done more research beyond the register.

  4. Nominations Day 1:
    Greens have got a bulk of there candidates nominated and so has independent Tiger Liu for West Ward.
    Seems to be common that Greens have a local page on their website for each council and common mobile number mentioned for each candidate. Tiger Liu, surprisingly for a standalone independent, has a website which is just one page of his profile picture and contact details.

  5. Heads up.

    Expect the mayoralty battle to get ultra spicy here. Word is that there is a massive pre-selection battle for the Liberal Party and that Michelle Byrnes could be in trouble

  6. Nominations Day 4 update:

    East Ward:
    Guitang Lu has nominated. Another independent in this area and also has his own, one page website. It’s half in English, half in Mandarin? Nevertheless, appealing to a Chinese audience.

    Perhaps this is such a strong Liberal area, there aren’t as many independent candidates putting up their hand. I get West (1), East (1) and potentially Central (3 – 1 group) with North (3 – 1 group).

  7. I’ve lived in The Hills Shire, and there is absolutely a place for independents here. People are angry about overdevelopment all over The Hills that Liberal councillors continually approve. But of course, for many, Labor and the Greens are not very appealing alternatives.

  8. Nominations Day 5: It seems the Greens are very organised when it comes to Local Elections, having most nominations across the 3 councils I’m watching closely and this one.

    Central Ward:
    Green Group nomination confirmed and Mark Hodges (Liberal). Surprised the independent group registered to campaign hasn’t nominated yet… let’s see if it goes ahead.

    East Ward:
    Green Group nomination confirmed, Guitang Lu (Independent) and Ryan Tracey (Labor – Councillor)

    North Ward:
    Two Greens and confirmation of the independent here Jerzy (George) Rozycki).

    West Ward:
    Green Group nomination confirmed and Tiger Liu (Independent)

    The Hills and Hornsby seem similar, with contests between the three majors and a small smattering on independents, with an traditionally Liberal dominated.

  9. It has happened. Peter Gangemi from North Ward has been confirmed through NSW EC as the Liberal Party Mayor Candidate, effectively ending the run of Michelle Byrne-Fuentes as Mayor.

  10. @Hawkeye_au – thanks for noticing that. Mayoral race has 4 candidates, a good field compared to say Hornsby, that currently only has 2 confirmed. 2 Days to go for nominations.

  11. With nominations now closed, will be interesting to see if any changes once all the paperwork is sorted through and confirmed. One thing I noticed in Central Ward was a Liberal Democrats candidate in the Un-grouped section. Not sure if this will turn into a group or stand-alone, I guess we’ll find out later today. Mayoral Race is now at 5 candidates. Otherwise, not many other changes, although the NSWEC is barely loading for me, so not sure if that’s my internet or others are having issues.

  12. Post-Nominations & Ballot Summary:

    What I find interesting about The Hills is that every ward has an un-grouped candidate (Central Ward has 2) whereas, compared to say Hornsby that has none, and generally thought there was a decline in the un-grouped candidates this election and increase in party representatives per a previous post by Ben. So quick summary:

    Greens are contesting every ward after only contesting East Ward in 2017.
    Liberals are contesting every ward (as expected).
    Labor will contest every ward EXCEPT North Ward. (Similar to discussion on Northern Beaches about Labor pulling out of low polling areas, although it isn’t single digits here.)

    There is one independent un-grouped candidate in each ward (with two of them running for mayor as well) and a Liberal Democrats un-grouped candidate in Central Ward.

    The other big difference compared to last time is there is no Building Australia Party running here, that contested every ward last time.

    Group Amounts compared from 2017 to 2021.
    Central 4 > 3 (-1)
    East 5 > 3 (-2)
    North 3 > 2 (-1)
    West 3 – 3 (0)

    **EDIT: I also just noticed in 2017 groups had 4 candidates, whereas this time it’s just 3 to get your group voting square. This has also led to a reduction in overall candidates running this election.

    Ballot Draw: Greens have done well to top Mayoral and Group A for 3/4 wards for Ballot Position (Labor pulls Group A in East Ward).

  13. Ignore my EDIT to above comment, I mis-read and was counting the ticket total as a candidate! That’s what you get after a long day at work 😛

  14. I really dont like the way this above article was written.
    And I dont like the view points which the author throw about.
    Unless the author owns the website, then I take back my comment.

  15. @Rick Keatinge – Have you got anything more than a completely asinine comment? You come here, throw a ridiculously negative comment around with no context provided and you expect us to treat you seriously?

  16. Being a first time voter, I am interested to read about the plans each of the candidates/parties have for our Hills District. Obviously I am concerned about the overdevelopment, lagging infrastructure and care for our green spaces.

    I did find information on the Hills Labor website, but the Liberals do not seem to have any information online.
    ANyone can point me in the right direction.

  17. @Dozzie

    If you’re concerned about overdevelopment, it’s very straightforward – vote for anyone other than the Liberals. The majority of Hills residents, who have constantly reelected Liberal councillors, only have themselves to blame for all the overdevelopment that has been happening.

    Even David Elliott (Liberal Member for Baulkham Hills and Police Minister), who has been quite outspoken on overdevelopment, has expressed support for Alexia Yazdani (independent candidate for mayor) over his own party.

  18. Can we please have a profile on all the candidates up for election? There is no longer a local newspaper with wide distribution where we, in the past, were able to access this type of information. There has been very little information, if any, in my local area of Baulkham Hills. I really would like to know in advance about the candidates so that I can at least have some idea what they stand for. It is most frustrating that in 10 days time I shall be voting compulsorily for people I know nothing about. Please assist!

  19. @Gillian – As posted by myself above, the Liberal Party has an entire Facebook Page dedicated above.

    Doesn’t take much to look.

  20. Well, well, well,
    The Liberal Religious Hard Right have steamrolled the moderates here in the “Bible Belt” they call The Hills.
    They’ll no doubt win with a huge majority, but with the no name list of unknown candidates they’ve put forward, the more information about them the better for all other candidates.
    Therefore don’t expect too many Bio’s on The Liberal Religious Hard Right Candidates, Hand picked by the now Controlling and Dangerous Faction of the so called “Liberal Party”.
    So, in essence, it’s Voter beware of The Hard Right!!!
    They are Very Dangerous!!!

  21. TD, we have been having a very civil conversation and then you come in and spew this dribble.
    This website is also about analysis, not gross politiking.
    In my eyes, your post isn’t appreciated at all

  22. @Hawkeye_au – sure, except the Hills Shire Facebook page hasn’t seen any activity since August, and certainly nothing regarding the candidates that they’ve put up for election – most of whom also don’t appear in any Google search results.

  23. Hawkeye,

    After reading this blog and seeing comments like yours throughout, I think I know who the dribbler is.
    You say we are having a civil conversation, it’s a political forum you Goose, not a plaything for the likes of the “we’s” you mention.
    Obviously, yourself and Mr Spencer don’t appreciate a difference of opinion or a view from a different perspective.
    May not be politically correct, but you won’t get me for telling lies.

  24. Congratulations @TD, you have just misread the entire website.

    This isn’t a page about debating politics. It’s analysis around the numbers for elections, looking at possible outcomes etc. It has nothing to do with attacking and debating on a campaigning or political standpoint.

    We have people from all sides of politics here to discuss this in a non-partisan way. You coming in with nothing but a clear attempt at character assassination IMO, tells me you are unwelcome here.

    We appreciate different opinions but make it relevant and do it in a way that doesn’t involve ridiculous character assassination

    Don’t tell me cheers. Just leave.

  25. Good Evening Hawkeye & Ben,

    My apologies for misreading this website.

    My analysis for the Hills Shire election is a huge majority for the Liberal Party aligned candidates.

    If it was thought that I was attempting to assassinate anyone’s character I apologise, but this was not my intention.

    I also don’t believe I made any baseless accusations, but apologise if anyone felt I did.

    I’ll now leave the site and not return.


  26. @TD, I call BS on your post. I doubt you will leave but happy to be proven wrong.

    I can only speak for myself, as Ben Raeu runs this site and does a pretty excellent job of it as well but, in my eyes, you aren’t welcome with that attitude.

  27. Preference Confirmation for Hills:
    *LIB and Alexia Yazdani running “Just Vote 1”
    *LAB and Greens exchanging preferences and then offers a Number 3 to Alexia Yazdani.
    *None of George Rozycki’s material has been approved

    Central Ward:
    *Labor and Greens Exchanging preferences
    *Lib running “Just Vote 1”
    *Amir Soreh’s material has not been approved
    *Lib Dems running only below the line and with a free 2nd preference

    East Ward:
    *Labor and Greens Exchanging preferences (an assumption because Greens Material has not been approved)
    *Lib running “Just Vote 1”
    *Guitang Lu running ungrouped and a free 2nd preference

    North Ward:
    *Both Greens and Lib running “Just Vote 1”
    *Jerzy Rozycki’s material has not been approved

    West Ward:
    *Lab and Greens exchanging 2nd preferences
    *Lib running “Just Vote 1”
    *Tiger Liu running ungrouped with a free 2nd preference

  28. Why did the liberal party shaft most of its current councillors and replace them with newbies?
    Obviously so they can control them completely.
    You’ve got to figure out who is pulling the strings via liberal HQ and what they stand to gain by owning local councillors. Who else but developers?. Nothing else makes sense. I wonder what ICAC thinks about all this?

  29. @Peter – This idea of Councillors being “Owned” is very dangerous to peddle as this runs the line at being defamatory, especially with your accusations around developers. So I’d suggest you watch what you say.

    As for the mass change of Councillors, there is only 4 plus the mayor that has really changed. Robyn Preston moved to State Parliament and the 3rd Liberal Seat in Centre Ward was won in a By-Election, a seat that is notionally Labor.

    So the idea that “Most” were changed is incorrect. Some have been changed by HQ but others have occurred through natural attrition.

    What is interesting is that David Elliott is throwing his support behind Alexia Yazdani and has been dropping hints about him being approached to run for Greenway.

  30. Time to run the final rule for the new base, following shifts in tickets:
    Central Ward:
    Assumption – BAP wholely to Greens, Ind wholely to Lib as Jeff Lowe is former LIB
    Outcome – LIB guaranteed 2 Quotas. Race is on between LAB and LIB for final Quota. Much will be decide on the initial re-alloaction of primaries with BAP and IND not running (BAP replaced by Greens) and also decided by Greens Prefernces. On Balance, you would say Labor holds on

    East Ward:
    Assumption – BAP Wholely to Greens, IND Split 50:25:25 between LIB:LAB:GRN
    Outcome – LIB retain their two quotas comfortably. Race is on for the last seat. Expected outcome is LAB wins comfortably after some spillage of preferences and preference exhaustion

    North Ward:
    Assumption – BAP and LAB Splits 80:20 to Greens: LIB
    Outcome – End result is still the same. LIB sweep all three seats

    West Ward:
    Assumption – BAP Wholely to Greens
    Outcome – No Change. LIB with 2 Quotas, LAB with 1 Quota

    Assumption – BAP to Greens. Previous IND splits 50:50 between new independents. Yazdani, being backed by David Elliott, would assume to pick up some spillage from LIB. I’m factoring 15% over.
    Outcome – Even with this, I still have LIB winning the Mayoralty on Primaries at 52.33%

  31. For the election amateurs amongst us, can you explain what “BAP” means please. This last post has thrown me.

  32. News as of today – Liberal candidate for mayor Peter Gangemi has been referred to ICAC for allegedly failing to disclose property owned by his family.

    Hardly surprising.

  33. @BlueBottle – Not a problem. BAP is the Building Australia Party (Now known as the Advance Australia Party). A weird party, their main policy was pushing forward with changing building regulations that would allow for easier construction of affordable housing. The reason why they ran here is because their leader, Ray Browne, is based in the Hills and was a former Deputy Mayor.

    @Nicholas – I did some digging into this. I believe that this has been launched by David Elliott as a get-back at Gangemi, who was endoursed as Mayoral candidate over Michelle Burns, who is an ally of Elliott. Gut feel is that this is a smear campaign but, funnier things have happened with ICAC

  34. Tally looking like The Hills will remain a Liberal seat, cannot fathom why, everyone voices the need for change, progression and less high rise development, yet continues to vote in the same. Gone from garden shire to high rise shire!!

  35. Hawkeye

    Re Peter G – unfortunately there are residents in the North Ward that Peter Gangemi refused to help regarding the destruction of protected environment in the North Kellyville Environmental Protection Zone. So I for one am grateful for David Elliot calling him out.

  36. Tory heartland here, not much of the moral middle class of the North Shore, but leftward shift though from a very low base is interesting. Why no Labor candidate in North?

  37. Based on the current numbers, it looks like the Liberal Party is likely to retain the Mayoralty, with Peter Gangemi, who is currently sitting at 53-54% Primary Vote and, barring a sudden collapse and, someone overtaking Ryan Tracy into 2nd place, it is unlikely that he would be chased down after preferences if he dropped below 50%.

    In terms of the seats, it looks like the Liberal Party will lose 1 seat to the Greens in North Ward (not surprising, given that it had become a 2-Ticket Race and the Liberal Party had often managed to get their 3rd ticket member up off the back of preference exhaustion) while the Labor seat “gained” in Central Ward is a Notionally Labor Seat so this seat is returning after the by-election.

    Liberal Party – 8 + the mayoralty
    Labor – 3
    Greens – 1


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