Mayor reveals crushing toll of local politics

Subiaco Mayor Penny Taylor with her dog Chloe Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au   d495250
Subiaco Mayor Penny Taylor with her dog Chloe Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d495250

SUBIACO mayor Penny Taylor says she’d be “crushed” by the words and actions of some councillors and ratepayers if she did not have a “healthy level of self-confidence”.

The mother of three admits her strength has been tested in the past two years but she has just as much confidence now as she did when elected in October 2017 for a four-year term.

When it was announced she had won the mayoral election by 395 votes, Ms Taylor thanked her supporters, saying: “You’ve given me the confidence I need to do this job.”

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Mayor Penny Taylor spoke exclusively to Denise Cahill from the Western Suburbs Weekly

At the most recent Subiaco council meeting, the mayor was forced to remind councillor Julie Matheson, who ran against her for the mayoral role in 2017, to be polite and allow for constructive debate.

Cr Matheson was challenging Ms Taylor on her power as presiding member to speak, forcing the mayor to insist she not be interrupted.

Last week, Ms Taylor said rules were there for a reason and, without them, the council would not get anything done.

While the highs have been high – work has finally started on the former Pavilion Market site, the Local Planning Scheme (LPS5) was approved and Bob Hawke College is well under way – the mayor admits there have been lows, too.

It’s no secret that when another local newspaper took the unusual decision to publish a photo of Ms Taylor’s family home in Shenton Park, it took a toll on her.

While she did not want to comment on that particular incident, Ms Taylor said living in Subiaco and having children who attended local primary and high schools, she expected to get plenty of feedback on the sidewalk.

“I see people every day and have to live with the feedback they give me every day and I’m comfortable with that,” Ms Taylor said.

“In person I rarely get negative feedback.”

Ms Taylor said being personally attacked in the media had been tough but her kids were proud of her; “they’ve made me very clear about that”.

Artist’s impression of Blackburne’s Pavilion Market development

“I knew I wouldn’t keep everyone happy and there would be days when the media loved me and days when they didn’t like me,” she said.

“But I did expect fair and balanced reporting and I didn’t expect to be personally attacked.

“But I have a positive relationship with the majority of the media, including the Western Suburbs Weekly.”

Ms Taylor said while she had faced plenty of challenges since being elected, the role was incredibly rewarding.

She said the community would always become a better place when motivated people were brave enough to run, despite the challenges ahead of them.

Six of 11 City of Subiaco councillors – Cr Stroud, Peter McAllister, Cr Matheson, Malcolm Mummery, Judith Gedero and Hugh Richardson – are up for re-election this year.

  • Nominations for Local Government Elections to be held on October 19 are open from September 5-12. 

 

Penny Taylor on the night she won the election in 2017

 

Subiaco needs progress and unity

UNITY and progress are what the City of Subiaco needs from candidates in this year’s Local Government Elections, says Subiaco restaurateur Jeremy Cariss.

The business owner of 13 years and City of Subiaco resident was considering nominating as a candidate but feared heavy commitments at his restaurant, Bistro Felix, and as head of the Restaurant and Catering Association meant he wouldn’t be able to commit enough time to the role.

“There’s a number of councillors who have a pattern of just trying to bring division,” Mr Cariss said.

“It just seems there’s mixed agendas and people focused on bringing down Penny (Taylor) rather than bringing positive change.”

Jeremy Cariss with his dog Cognac outside Bistro Felix. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d488330

Referring to the fierce opposition to the local planning scheme among a “very small but loud” minority, Mr Cariss said:

“Penny’s not perfect but she didn’t create the density issue, the (State) Government did”.

Mr Cariss said many of his customers shared their frustrations with him about “in-fighting” within the council and unfair media reports featured on the front page of some media each week.

While the Western Suburbs Weekly has heard potential candidates are baulking at nominating because of the potential for intense public scrutiny and negative media attention, Mr Cariss said it was not part of his decision.

However, he said it concerned him that negative media and public scrutiny was scaring away good candidates.