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.

Candidate summary
Watch this space.

No parties seriously contest Ku-ring-gai council. Not only are there no parties, but I have not been able to find information about stable “teams” that exist across more than one ward. It is possible that some of the current councillors are allied, but if so I have not found evidence for that.

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.

2017 results – Comenarra Ward

Jeff Pettett6,80956.181.6854
Callum Clarke5,31043.821.3144

2017 results – Gordon Ward

Cheryl Szatow4,33835.551.0661
Peter Kelly3,57929.330.8796
Greg Cook2,35419.290.5785
Rakesh Duncombe1,93315.840.4751

2017 results – Roseville Ward

Sam Ngai5,04341.341.2400
Jennifer Anderson3,08325.270.7581
David Armstrong2,52920.730.6218
Chiming Shea8667.100.2129

2017 results – St Ives Ward

David Citer4,50735.461.0635
Martin Smith4,43434.881.0462
Christine Kay2,91022.890.6866

2017 results – Wahroonga Ward

Donna Greenfield5,71145.961.3785
Cedric Spencer3,78030.420.9124
John Cronly2,93623.630.7087

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  1. Why doesn’t the Liberal Party contest here? With two-member wards, their state and federal performance would have them winning 100% of the seats! (Of course I know the dynamic with independents is very different at a local level, but still.)

  2. None of the parties really compete here so there is little point running endorsed candidates here.

    Can confirm that all of the current councillors are running again except for Cheryl Szatow.

    This is a very spicy council but people don’t realise it. There is an extra-ordinary meeting tonight, rumoured to be pushed forward by Christine Kay, Peter Kelly and Sam Ngai that will be intending on sacking the current GM, in the lead-up to the election.

    Watch this space indeed. This is going to get hot.

  3. Thanks hawkeye, just saw that in one of the local papers as well, shall be interesting!

    Also with the recent change of Cedric Spencer being mayor, won after a tie-breaker, for only a couple of months before the election, shall make things more spicy this election. I note that Cedric has been running ads for quite some time now with a group banner including himself (Wahroonga Ward), Peter Kelly (Gordon Ward), Gurdeep Singh (Comenarra Ward) and Henry Yukun Song (St Ives Ward).

    As Ben mentions in the summary there are no ‘teams’ per se, but I would say Spencer and Kelly would be at least an alliance. I am unaware of the others as don’t pay as much attention to this council, but the below votes for Mayor and Deputy Mayor also show some other broad loose alliances. Read into it what you will. If anyone local has more information, I would be interested to know.

    Results of the Mayoral Vote on 21st September 2021.
    For Jennifer Anderson (5 Votes): Councillors Anderson, Clarke, Greenfield, Smith and Szatow
    For Cedric Spencer (5 Votes): Councillors Kay, Kelly, Ngai, Pettett and Spencer
    Cedric was announced Mayor with the GM pulling his name out.

    The same split of votes occurred for the Deputy Mayoral Vote:
    For Councillor Smith (5 Votes): Councillors Anderson, Clarke, Greenfield, Smith and Szatow
    For Councillor Ngai (5 Votes): Councillors Kay, Kelly, Ngai, Pettett and Spencer
    Ngai was announced as Deputy-Mayor with the GM pulling his name out.

    *Note: This information was obtained from the Minutes. If you want to look into it:

  4. *addendum to above post-as a FYI: 2 Councillors had to authorise another Councillor’s nomination for the mayoral vote, with that candidate then accepting. Kelly and Ngai nominated Spencer, Szatow and Smith nominated Anderson. For Deputy Mayor, Spencer and Kelly authorised Ngai’s nomination and Greenfield and Szatow for Smith’s nomination.

  5. Politics_Obsessed is on the Money. This Council is split 5:5 between supporters of Cedric Spencer and Jennifer Anderson. The Cedric Spencer supporters were mostly set up by Chantelle Fomari-Osmand, who was deputy mayor for a while.

    Under-neath, it is predominantly Liberal Party Mini-Factions squabbling amongst each other for dominance of the council.

    There will be a Town-Hall Debate happening in Early November, which I will be attending (on behalf of the Community Radio Station that I do work for on the side). There are already rumblings that Sam Ngai is pushing for the Cedric Spenser Team to boycott the Town Hall Debate due to the coverage that they are receiving from the Hornsby-KRG Post, who are running the event.

  6. David Howard- for memory they were the meetings to discuss the replacement of the GM. Interesting to note those alliances for the mayoral vote have stayed, with Team Spencer (5) turning up to both extraordinary meetings of council during the weekend, and Team Anderson (5) all being absent. I watched these and a quorum of 6 is needed, so the meetings couldn’t proceed for council business.

    Interesting note: Mayor Spencer made the move that while the Councillors for Team Anderson apologies for missing the meeting were accepted, leave of absence was NOT granted (about 15minute mark of the meeting). The threat being is if they missed a third one without prior leave being given, their civic office will become vacant! The extra-ordinary meeting this Friday and the usual meeting the following Tuesday could turn out to be a cracker!

    Hawkeye_au – thanks for the info re: Chantelle having the form of this group before Cedric Spencer taking over as I was unaware. That wouldn’t be a certain Triple H would it? ;P Curious to know more about those ‘rumblings’ and why they would boycott? I don’t recall any coverage being that adverse.

    (Normally I don’t take note of KRG Council but I have to say, with all recent events, I’m looking forward to this election.)

  7. @Politics_Obsessed – 100% that this is going to get spicy. I didn’t get to watch council (family duties) but my contact within HK Post keeps me up to date on this.

    In terms of the ‘rumblings’, it wasn’t towards Triple H Radio (Can confirm that :P) but was to HK Post. Triple H FM has been kept out as non-factional, especially as the President and Secretary of the station are from opposing ends of the political spectrum but do work very well together.

    We have had another entertaining submission, again, from a candidate for either Comenarra (likely) or Gordon Ward in Boru Tumulty, who went on a massive rant on Triple H earlier this week.

    You couldn’t script some of this stuff. Where is the popcorn?

  8. It’s always interesting to read other people’s speculation because a number of the points mentioned here are very far from the truth.

    For the record, I do intend to attend the community forum organised by HKPost on 15/11/2021 and I haven’t discouraged any candidate from attending. I also don’t understand the comment about ‘rumblings’ re: HKPost. The most recent article from HKPost was quite neutral, sticking to facts and a few quotes (opinions) from stakeholders and I went so far as to email the journalist and the editor, thanking them for their balanced approach.

    More information to come in November. And Hawkeye, I don’t know who you are but I’m happy to catch up with you privately in the second or third week of November to discuss what I’ve observed in the first term of council.

  9. Sam Ngai

    I think (while knowing absolutely nothing about the goings on of the Ku-ring-gai Council) it’s absolutely hilarious when someone who is spreading unsubtantiated rumours about the internet get proverbially shat on.

  10. There was a full page news item/political ad (depending on your view) under the heading “Ward Updates” appearing in a local paper. This featured a few paragraphs from 5 councillors out of 10. The 5 were all from the one faction. This is all OK if they paid for it themselves but if it was paid for by ratepayers are we seeing our own own mini-Victoria controversy? red shirts/ use of public resources for campaigning.

    Few people are interested in local politics but there is nothing focuses attention like ratepayers funds being misspent.

  11. @David – I did see that article in HK Post. It just keeps getting weirder and weirder. I understand that it was not paid by the campaign team so take it for what you will.

    @Ryan – I think you will find people know much more about what is going on than what you think. These aren’t unsubstantiated. This is happening to a local publication, run as non-partisan, by locals, for locals and they are clear about some of the poor behaviour. Furthermore, as someone well connected in the area, I daresay that you are majorly under-estimating what is going on. But if you want to through around empty comments, go right ahead.

    @Sam – Thank you for the invitation but I will pass. If the behaviour of 1-2 other candidates on Triple H FM is anything to go by, I daresay I won’t be getting anywhere with a “friendly chat”


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