By PETER HACKNEY
City of Sydney Councillor Dr Kerryn Phelps has dropped out of the race to be Sydney’s next Lord Mayor in September’s local government elections, citing a family member’s health issues.
Dr Phelps, who was first elected to the council in September 2016, said she would serve out her current term, but would stand down at the end of the term in September.
In a statement on Facebook late yesterday, the former Australian Medical Association president said: “I need to be present over the coming months to help manage a health issue for a close family member.
“I am devastated at the timing as I have been working towards this election for the past five years, but my priority must be my family.
“I would like to express my profound gratitude to all of my campaign team, volunteers and supporters for your passion, commitment and understanding,” said Dr Phelps, who was also briefly Member for Wentworth in 2018-19.
Dr Phelps – who started on council as a member of the Clover Moore Independent Team – sensationally quit Ms Moore’s team in June 2017, citing an alleged lack of transparency in the Lord Mayor’s dealings.
In a statement at the time, she said she had been asking questions about the council’s expenses and was “concerned about the resistance I have encountered in simply asking for what I consider to be reasonable information”.
Ms Moore countered: “I’ve been unhappy with her lack of understanding and support of City policies and our vision … as well as her non-attendance of important community and City events – it is fair to say we’re not on the same page when it comes to how to serve the community.”
When announcing her Lord Mayoral campaign in February, Dr Phelps acknowledged she was up against a popular incumbent, but said: “It’s time to place the City of Sydney in new safe hands and to bring in an era of enthusiasm, energy and most of all to put the City of Sydney community at the forefront.”
Labor Councillor Linda Scott has also announced she is running against Ms Moore, while the Liberal Party has yet to announce a candidate.
Liberal City of Sydney Councillor Christine Forster, the sister of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, announced in February that she would retire from council at the end of this term.
The wild card is independent Councillor Angela Vithoulkas, who has yet to announce her intentions in September.
The councillor, who founded the Small Business Party in 2018, was first elected to the City of Sydney Council in September 2012.
Ms Vithoulkas, the former co-owner and operator of the VIVO Cafe in George Street, is on numerous council committees and sub-committees, and makes regular public and media appearances to advocate for small businesses.
A proud Greek-Australian, she is an active member of Sydney’s Greek community and has won numerous awards and accolades in business, including the Telstra Women’s Business Owner of the Year Award, the NSW Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and in 2015 was named as one of Australia’s 50 Influential Women Entrepreneurs.
The 2021 NSW local government elections will be held on Saturday, 4 September.
Peter Hackney is the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Sentinel.
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