Councillor Profiles

Mayor Felicity-Ann Lewis, City of Marion, South Australia

Q. How long have you been on Council?

My time as an elected member of Marion Council began in 1997 and I was elected Mayor in 2000. The Local Government Association of South Australia recently awarded me with a Meritorious Service Award for 10 years’ service.

Q. Why did you initially stand for election?

I became involved in a group lobbying Council for improvements in the reserve across the road from my home. Through lobbying, I became quite familiar with Council and discovered a talent for petitions. It took our lobby group several budget cycles, but we eventually succeeded and the improvements in our local reserve were funded. Our capacity for community advocacy became stronger. My Ward Councillor offered to ‘show me the ropes’ and we were both subsequently elected. I actually polled more votes than him – beginner’s luck I guess!

Q. Why did you run for Mayor?

At the time of the 2000 election, our then Mayor decided to retire. I had nothing to lose by having a go and decided to take a chance. I won by a narrow margin – on preferences, and I worked very hard during my first term to prove my abilities. I was highly motivated by the challenges facing my community and was rewarded with an unopposed election in 2003. In 2006 the contest was steeper, with two other candidates running. I won fairly comfortably and am thrilled to be in a position to see projects that I developed come to fruition this term. I recently opened the groundbreaking ceremony for a new connector road that has been planned for several years. It feels terrific to see projects such as this deliver real benefit to the community through to completion.

Q. Can you tell us about your Local Government area?

Marion is located about 10 kilometres southwest of the Adelaide CBD. It covers an area of 55 square kilometres and has a population of approximately 78,700. The area features a diversity of housing, topography and cultures and has a significant industrial sector. Marion is home to the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, the Marion Cultural Centre, Mitsubishi Motors and Westfield Marion Shopping Centre – the future site of the State Aquatic Centre, a GP Plus Centre and a significant transport development. Hallett Cove Conservation Park, bike trails that run the length of Marion and beyond, conservation and recreation areas, rivers and rugged coastlines make Marion a beautiful place to live and work.

Q. What are the key challenges facing you and your Council?

Global issues such as climate change and environmental concerns are key challenges. We have issues that are similar to those facing other metropolitan Councils, such as economic development, urban consolidation, affordable housing and sustainable transport for the community.

Q. What innovative projects is your Council working on?

The State Aquatic Centre is the largest project that the City of Marion has steered. Last year, our lobbying efforts paid off when matching funds were secured from the Federal Government. This aquatic centre will be the only one in South Australia that is of a standard required by competitions such as the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. We are delighted to have fostered this idea, which will literally transform the heart of the city.

The City of Marion has also had a significant financial turnaround. We went from a position of debt to being a category three Council for financial sustainability. We were recently named one of the top three councils in South Australia, according to the first FiscalStar rating report, which is a publicly available, independent assessment of a Council’s financial performance and sustainability. Marion is one of only 12 Councils across the nation to be awarded five stars.

Mayor Gary Johanson, City of Port Adelaide Enfield, South Australia

Q. How long have you been on Council?

I was elected to Council in November 2006. This is my first direct involvement in Local Government, having not taken the usual route of serving some time as a Councillor before seeking the position of Mayor.

Q. Why did you want to become involved in Local Government?

For many years I have assisted the local community through my family business in the form of donations and other support. Through this support, I became more aware of the needs of the community and how people often felt they were not well represented by the various levels of Government. I also realised that there was a financial limit to what I was able to contribute. This got me thinking about what I could do to assist the local community further. From this thinking came the idea to run for Mayor.

Q. Can you tell us about your Local Government area?

Port Adelaide Enfield is South Australia’s major port. We have a considerable proportion of Adelaide’s metropolitan coastline and are home to a defence hub comprising ASC (Australian Submarine Corporation), the new Techport for the recent Air Warfare Destroyer contract and a very large proportion of the State’s manufacturing industry. The City has a total population of approximately 105,000 people, including very strong multicultural and Aboriginal communities, which form a vital backbone to the City of Port Adelaide Enfield.

Q. What are the key challenges facing you and your Council?

One of the key challenges is working with my fellow Councillors to ensure the best possible representation and service to our local ratepayers.

Another key challenge is addressing residents’ concerns with regard to possible issues arising from inappropriate industries developing alongside residential areas.

Q. What innovative project is your Council working on?

One in particular has grasped the interest of the State Government and public alike. That is our plan to relocate the South Australian Film Corporation (a State Government entity) to vacant land within our Council area. At the same time, we will build for them large, state of the art film studios at little or no cost to the State Government.

Q. Tell us about a specific success you have had in Local Government.

I have brought Council into a much closer working relationship with both the State and Federal Governments.
I also believe I have brought more harmony into the relationship between Councillors and administration staff. This is due to my business background and understanding of the difficulties faced by volunteers such as Councillors, as well as the administration requirements needed to fulfil certain roles.

Q. How do you balance work, Council and family life?

When I considered running for Mayor, I was asked this question many times. I have a very supportive wife, but we also have three children under 16 years of age. I explain it like this…

Many years ago a club I was involved in needed someone to help maintain it. I was talking to a prominent Adelaide businesswoman and I explained that I was looking for someone with lots of time on their hands to assist the club. She said: “No, your club needs a busy person”. This is certainly correct, because a busy person will find time, but someone who has nothing to do and time on their hands will never find the time.