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Two portraits of newly elected mayors

We spoke to them about their historic elections, women in local government and what’s on the agenda for their first terms as mayor.

Deb Hamblin, Mayor of the City of Rockingham

Deb Hamblin has served as a councillor at the City of Rockingham since 2005. She additionally served as deputy mayor from 2011 until her history-making election as the city’s first popularly elected and first female mayor, succeeding long-term incumbent Cr Barry Sammels.

What was it that inspired you to run for mayor?

I’ve had the privilege of working with a very experienced mayor in Cr Barry Sammels and council had recently voted to change to a popularly elected mayor. I wanted to provide a stable transition if possible - I had the experience and knew the role and felt it would be beneficial to the team and to the city staff as well as the residents to have that stability. I also am passionate about our city and its potential.

What do you hope to achieve in your term as mayor?

I want to make sure we have a cohesive team that works together for the good of the entire community. Our growth will continue and we need to ensure we have the infrastructure to provide the lifestyle our community wants and needs.

As mayor of the City of Rockingham I want to ensure that community members feel like they are being listened to. Over the next four years I will work with my fellow councilors to deliver the best possible value for rates and explore opportunities to boost local employment.

A particular priority will be to fund and deliver the next stage of the city’s Safety Bay Shoalwater Foreshore Master Plan, and to continue enhancing the city’s reputation as a premium coastal and tourist destination.

It is important to highlight that as mayor I only have one vote. A united council the community trusts and respects is crucial to delivering the goals we are striving for, and I will be working closely with my fellow councillors to ensure that can become a reality.

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities of being a woman serving in local government?

I think there has been a cultural change for women in society and I think more and more women know they have the capacity and the opportunity to contribute. I think the term Julie Bishop used, ‘gender deafness’, is still widespread and we need to ensure we are heard. I think many women still carry the bulk of domestic duties and balancing your time is a challenge.

How do we get more women to run for local government?

Making sure women support other women. In my time at Rockingham we have had a great gender mix and currently we have a majority of women. I think if we promote the sector as supportive and inclusive that will encourage participation.

Cr Filomena Piffaretti, Mayor of the City of Bayswater

Cr Piffaretti has served as a councillor at the City of Bayswater since 2017, she served as deputy mayor from 2019 until her election to the position of mayor at November's Special Council Meeting.

What was it that inspired you to nominate for mayor?

I was inspired to nominate as mayor so that I could honour the promises I made to residents and ratepayers during the election by bringing balance and common-sense decision making to council. I want everyone in our community to have a say on the decisions that directly affect them, not just those who are the most vocal. I think this resonated with many of my fellow councillors, and I was elected as mayor.

I also think the timing was right. Seven of our 11 councillors are women so I felt it was time this was reflected in our leadership team. Bayswater council has always been progressive but I feel like this was one area that needed to be addressed. I work alongside six capable women on council but no-one put up their hand for the role of mayor. I had served as deputy mayor for the past two years and felt a responsibility to provide councillors with an alternative choice of leader.

I believe that all councillors should work together to achieve positive outcomes for the community. We will have different opinions along the way but I want to see council unite as a team; to work together for all residents and ratepayers and the deliver the outcomes that were expressed during the election campaign.

What do you hope to achieve in your term as mayor?

I look forward to delivering strong, community focused policy outcomes for Bayswater, as mayor.

I want to make the lives of people living and working in the community better and promote Bayswater as a desirable place to invest.

Bayswater is a thriving local government with a number of significant State Government rail and road projects underway. I am excited and humbled to lead the city through this exciting next chapter.

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities of being a woman serving in local government?

I can’t think of anything more rewarding than making good decisions with the best interests of my community in mind.

I believe I have a lot to offer. I am a mother, wife, a worker and a resident. In that sense I think I bring a breadth of experience and understanding to my role as mayor. I am 100 per cent committed to fulfilling my duties as mayor and have worked hard for my community over the past four years.

I think the challenge for all women is about getting the balance right.

How do we get more women to run for local government?

I am humbled to be the city’s first female mayor and excited about leading the city through this next chapter.

In its history, 15 women have been elected to Bayswater council compared to 204 men. Times are changing though, in 2017 four women, including myself, were elected to council. With six out of 11 female councillors, that was the first time in Bayswater’s history women held a majority on council.

This election, we not only welcomed another woman to council, Cr Assunta Meleca, I was joined by a female deputy, Cr Catherine Ehrhardt.

Women have so much to offer their communities. I have witnessed it firsthand on council. I think it is important for young women especially to view the election of women to council as commonplace. I hope to inspire other women to represent their communities and take up a leadership role on council.

I also think our male leaders have a role to play. It is so important they champion better representation of women in all levels of government. 


Page reviewed 06 May 2022