Hills Mayor Michelle Byrne has decided not to stand as an Independent in the forthcoming Hills Shire Local Government elections on December 4 after the Liberal Party-backed Clr Peter Gangemi.
Nominations close at Noon today. Her statement released just before 11 am reads:
“It is with a heavy heart that today I announce that I won’t be contesting the upcoming Council elections as an independent Mayoral Candidate. It has not been an easy decision and one that I have wrestled with during the past few days with close friends, mentors and most importantly my family.
I have been overwhelmed by the number of calls, text messages, and messages of support from across our community. In fact, I have had so many people reach out to me that I haven’t yet been able to respond to everyone personally but will do so in the coming days.
To all of you, I say thank you for your friendship, love and enthusiastic encouragement for me to run as an independent candidate. It is because of all of you that I seriously considered running as an unaligned Independent despite the obvious consequences. I know for many that this announcement will come as a disappointment and no doubt will cause even more anger at the way I and my fellow Councillors have been treated.
Given the enthusiastic urgings of hundreds of community members for me to run as an independent, I feel it’s only right for me to reach out to the community that I love and explain my thinking.
I don’t agree with the process that has taken place within the Liberal Party or how we got here. I along with other Hills Shire councillors, wasn’t given the chance to put our case to local Party members – as has been the case with candidates in other council areas – nor were we granted dispensation to run as independents despite the Party granting such dispensation to candidates in other council areas. I am saddened that my Local Government career has come to a halt for the moment in this way.
There are many questions that remain unanswered that need to be answered. I have no doubt that what has happened in The Hills will continue to be scrutinised and so it should be.
Despite the injustice that has been committed on local Party members and the democratic process, I still remain committed to the Liberal Party has been a member for 17 years, and it goes against my inner grain to throw in the towel and walks away from the Party because things have not gone my way.
I am privileged to have had 13 wonderful years representing our community, seven of those as Mayor, including being the youngest-ever Mayor and the first popularly-elected Mayor of our wonderful Shire. All in all, not bad for a young 29-year-old woman who no one thought would survive the first term of Council!
Although I do not agree with the outcome and like many others am outraged that local Party members have been denied a voice as to who their candidates will be; I have to accept it is what it is for now. This can never be allowed to happen again and I hope this experience can be the catalyst for much-needed internal change within the Party.
I am proud of what I have achieved on Council in the past 13 years. The Hills Council is one of the strongest Council’s financially in NSW, with an excellent track record of delivery for its residents. I am proud that this is a Council that has pushed back on overdevelopment, often making me very unpopular in certain circles!
Despite no longer being on Council post-December I will continue to actively serve the community through my continued involvement with numerous community groups – in fact, I may now have more time to spend working on community-based projects!
This is not the last time the community will see Michelle Byrne in public office. I intend to return bigger, better and fiercer than ever to fight for the community that I love so much.
Thank you once again to the community for the privilege of serving you and for your ongoing love, friendship and support.
Michelle Byrne – Hills Shire Mayor
4 November 2021