Rockingham mayor Barry Sammels still has drive and passion to lead City after 14 years in the job


Barry Sammels has been City of Rockingham mayor for 14 years. Picture: Jon Hewson d474126
Barry Sammels has been City of Rockingham mayor for 14 years. Picture: Jon Hewson d474126

WITH his seat in Rockingham up for re-election Mayor Barry Sammels is not quite ready for departure yet.

He said old and new projects had motivated him to throw his hat into the ring for an eighth time.

After 14 years as Rockingham Mayor, he said the City faced some unique challenges and opportunities, centred around population growth and climate change.

Moving to the area 35 years ago, he was first elected as a councillor in 1997.

He stood down in 2003, but after some “gentle” persuasion from others he agreed to put his hand up for mayor.

“There were a few people who kept encouraging me to become mayor and I guess it steamrolled from there,” he said.

Two motivations have kept him passionate about his role.

“Law and order and public safety are what originally inspired me to become a councillor,” he said.

“The City Safe Committee began soon after I was mayor and out of that came Smart Watch.

“The OICs of all three policing districts – Kwinana Rockingham and Mandurah – are involved.”

Initiatives to come from this included improvements to CCTV, mobile CCTVs sent to crime hotspots and other safety initiatives such as beach watch and family friendly foreshores.

“Litterbusters has been effective for removing rubbish, graffiti and trolleys; keeping your environment clean makes people proud,” he said.

It has been a eventful journey throughout his time as the longest serving mayor in the Perth metropolitan region.

“Being a local businessman I’ve seen council change over the years,” he said.

“I have made lots of friends over the years.”

He thought the appointment of chief executive Andrew Hammond was timely for the City.

“When we had to advertise for a new CEO, some of the reasons prospective applicants gave as to why they would like to work at the City were that ‘we are a well-respected and stable council’,” he said.

“The CEO has a very difficult job. It’s great to hear people want to work here because they think we are stable and respected.

“Andrew’s made a lot of changes and I’m proud to be part of that and the executive team.

“With the growth, we’re the fastest growing area and it’s created a situation that has been challenging at times.

“We are well respected and work well with developers.”

A career highlight has been serving as chairman for the Australian Coastal Councils Association.

“There are more than 50 coastal councils in Australia and I am honoured to be their chair,” he said.

“They trust me to lead them on a national level.

“Climate change is a huge challenge and we need to have leadership on that considering our coastal location.

“It will be challenging and extreme.”

Some of the projects he has overseen as mayor included infrastructure such as the Lark Hill Sporting Complex.

He is also looking forward to the foreshore revitalisation project in 2018 and the Rockingham Renaissance.

“Our largest revenue stream is rates and that is limited, so local government are looking at other ways to make revenue,” he said.

“We do have a 10-year business plan that keeps us on top of our asset maintenance such as barbecues, roads and footpaths.

“We have done an exceptional job and last year spent $10 million on asset maintenance to get it to the level that it is at now.

“People can see that it is starting to show and I’m proud of that; I’m very proud of this council.

“I think we have been very honest and you hear the term transparency being used against us, (but) you can’t sit in on State and Federal cabinet meetings like the public can with council meetings.”

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