New mayor Paul Lake has stepped headlong into controversy as debate surrounding the Catholic Cemeteries Trust proposal to build a 130,000-plot ‘‘memorial park’’ at Varroville again hit the headlines.
The independent councillor was elected to take over the reins from former mayor, Liberal Democrat, Clinton Mead at Monday night's extraordinary council meeting.
He won the ballot 8-7, thanks largely to the backing of the Liberal bloc of councillors.
The Labor bloc and councillor Darcey Lound unsuccessfully threw their support behind Cr Fred Borg.
But it won’t be all smooth-sailing for Cr Lake, who this week proved he is not afraid to stand against popular-opinion, saying a change of zoning at Scenic Hills to allow the development of a cemetery would be the ‘‘best outcome’’ for the area.
Cr Lake was first elected to Campbelltown Council in 2004 and has already undertaken a year’s stint as mayor in 2010-2011. He has also served two terms as the deputy.
He already has a full-plate, juggling part time work in an importing business, with his council duties as well as sitting on the Board of Directors of Wests Leagues Club since 2003.
His passion for football is evident, as he has actively campaigned for Campbelltown Stadium to become Sydney’s third major sporting venue, and is a life member of Western Suburbs District Junior Rugby League.
‘‘Family comes first, I can’t replace them and now that I’ve got five grandchildren it’s been interesting,’’ Cr Lake said.
When Cr Lake moved to Campbelltown from Burwood 40 years ago his father asked why he chose the area.
‘‘I said it’s a place I can afford to live — I bought a $7,200 block of land and put a house on it for $22,000,’’ Cr Lake said.
‘‘And the second quote was ‘the place will grow’ and that statement is definitely true. It has boomed. I have been quite happy with the family growing up here.’’
Cr Lake has a busy year ahead of him but said he was looking forward to a ‘‘growing’’ Macarthur region, citing the redevelopment of Airds and Claymore and new projects at Maryfields and Macarthur South.
‘‘I just hope that the relationship between Campbelltown and the state and federal governments and the business community will develop further,’’ Cr Lake said.
‘‘One of the main things is that Campbelltown does get recognised as a regional centre, which would mean the government sees it as a major centre and be more inclined to move government departments here.
Also from a private sector point of view they know that the government will put money into and assist the development in the area.’’
Deputy mayor elected
Councillor Ted Rowell was named deputy mayor after he was elected by the same margin. His son, Wollondilly MP and Mental Health Minister Jai Rowell, was present for the election and asked his father to keep his political ambitions to local government.
"During my eight and a half years on council I only became the chair of the community services committee for a year," Jai Rowell said.
"You've become the deputy mayor in three years so please stay at council, don't come to Parliament."
Cr Rowell thanked his family and the community for their support. He was congratulated by fellow Liberal councillor George Greiss who described Cr Rowell as "a quiet achiever" and "big-hearted".