Councillor profiles - Mayor Steve Stefanopoulos City of Stonnington

Article image - Councillor profiles - Mayor Steve Stefanopoulos  City of Stonnington

The City of Stonnington is primarily a residential area, located in Melbourne’s inner south-east, taking in the suburbs of Armadale, Kooyong, Malvern, Malvern East, Prahran, Toorak and parts of Glen Iris, South Yarra and Windsor.

I have many favourite parts which include our wonderful architecture, both historical and contemporary; our thriving, inner city, cosmopolitan high streets, full of wonderful fashion stores; excellent cafes, restaurants and bars etc.; and our beautiful historic parks and gardens that are the backyards for many of our residents throughout the year.

My first stint on council was from 2004-2008 and I was re-elected in 2016. My fellow councillors elected me as Mayor in November 2017 and I was re-elected in 2018 and again in 2019. Although other councillors have been mayor for three years or more, never has the City had a mayor for three consecutive years. And as Australia’s first and only same-sex married mayor, I thought it vital that I advocate for the GLBTIQ+ community and their supporters living in the
City of Stonnington.

Plan for the future, value the past
I ran for Council because I am passionate about my community and wanted to contribute to the long term strategic planning of the City. I am an advocate for strategic planning to ensure that we create a vision for our long term prosperity.

I am currently employed as the Heritage Collection and Records Manager at Loreto Mandeville Hall, an independent Catholic Girls’ school. I manage their archives, records and museum collection, as well as oversee the operation and restoration of an internationally significant, nineteenth century mansion in inner city Toorak. I also undertake public tours, walks and talks about history and architecture, as part of the annual National Trust of Australia Heritage Festival and the annual Victorian Seniors Festival.

I am passionate about our built environment, and am a member of several committees, including the PMI Victorian History Library and Open House Melbourne, and have previously been on the national board of my professional association as well as running workshops and speaking at conferences across the country.

I also love walking, especially along the beach or The Tan around the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne (8km in an hour!). I also love going out to the movies; dinner with mates; and spending time with family and friends and at home with my husband Craig and our cat Howard.

Growing pains
The main challenge we have in Stonnington is population growth. The demand for new housing is intense, and the pressure put on services and the transport network is immense, especially since improvements to the public transport network is outside the control of local government.

In late 2019, we opened our largest ever civic project, the transformation of a 10,000sqm asphalt car park into a two level underground car park and a new contemporary take on a traditional style European style public square, designed by Lyons architects and Aspect Studios landscape architects. The $60+million project took 22 months to construct, right in the heart of the Chapel Street precinct.
As Australia’s first and only same sex married mayor, it has been an absolute honour to represent members of the LBGTIQ+ community and their supporters. The position I hold, brings with it a high level of responsibility to advocate for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community. It is vital, that as a representative of the closest level of government to the people, that I ensure I bring everyone along on the journey of understanding and acceptance of our diverse community.

Still more to do
What brings me the most joy, is seeing the smile on people’s faces once their issues have been resolved. I generally live a positive life as I am an optimist. I live with a glass half full attitude and believe there is a positive to every negative. I am always delighted when I have school groups come into the Town Hall for an interactive lesson with the Mayor about local government followed by a tour of the historic town hall. Inviting local community leaders to dinner with fellow councillors allows us to find out more about our community, at the same time, the community groups which they represent, gain the ability to promote their value to the Council.

What is unhelpful and causes confusion in the community is the buck passing by other levels of government. The cost shifting of essential community services to local government without any monetary support places a huge burden on the government closest to the people.

My ultimate aim in the lead up to the 2020 Victorian Local Government elections, is of course to be re-elected by the voters in Stonnington, and to understand their issues which I hope to continue to champion. I am keen to see continued investment in our infrastructure including the redevelopment of the old Prahran Town Hall into a wonderful new library and community centre; the completion of streetscape works along Greville Street, Prahran; the implementation of the Toorak Park and Princes Gardens master plans; the redevelopment of the Prahran Pool; the continued redevelopment of our sporting pavilions; a new sporting precinct in Malvern East; creation of additional open space in a municipality with the second lowest in Victoria; and the continued investment in long term strategic goals that will further improve and enhance the
liveability of our City.