For those I haven’t run into door knocking or at street stalls in the past few weeks, I’ve provided below a few answers to questions that I am regularly asked. Your feedback is always welcome at gail@gailgg.com.au, or at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/gilesgidney/

1. Why are you standing/what got you into politics?

I’m standing for re-election as Mayor of Willoughby because, whilst I have delivered many things for our community over the last three years, such as new playgrounds and all-weather playing surfaces, a revitalised Chatswood, investments in infrastructure and a strong financial position for Council, there is still much to do. I have the experience as Mayor to deliver on our plans and what our residents tell us they most want.

I love my job; from conducting hundreds of citizenship ceremonies, to chairing our complex council meetings, to liaising with State Government, to watching children’s faces light up when they “meet the Mayor”, through to supporting diversity in our wonderful City.

I successfully stood as a Ward Councillor back in 2009, because I love the City of Willoughby and felt it could be an even better place. I wanted to make a difference in our community. Local government directly affects people’s lives in many ways, both large and small. My previous experience as a business person and with community organisations has helped me to work steadily through the complexities of Council and deliver real benefits for our community.

I have listened to feedback on Council from conversations with thousands of our residents. I believe in genuine community consultation and I believe I have always voted with integrity in Council meetings. My past voting record is available online for all to see.

2. What is the most important issue in Willoughby to you?

Willoughby is already a wonderful place to live, as we can see from the strengthening property market and the popularity of this neighbourhood for a wide range of businesses and diversity of people.

To select just one issue would be too simplistic a response.

So, my strategy is to continue to build on the strengths which we already enjoy in Willoughby, and concentrate on the various areas for improvement of concern in our community.

If I am re-elected I will continue to work hard to:

  • Deliver more traffic, parking and safety improvements
  • Continue to reject over-development not fitting the balance of commercial, residential and village lifestyle
  • Continue to invest in our parks, playgrounds and sporting facilities
  • Maintain Council’s sustainability ethic and protect our bushland and heritage
  • Enhance services for our younger and older residents
  • Support our diversity principles
  • Continue to deliver Council transparency and financial strength

3. Name a community initiative that you have driven?

As Mayor, there have been many, and it’s hard or even unfair to our community groups to try to pick just one, but I highlight two.

Firstly, I am very proud to have brought the Vivid light festival to Chatswood. Back in 2014, I believed we needed a significant initiative to drive the revitalisation of Chatswood. Our shopping centres were being redeveloped, but we still didn’t have a real community initiative to bring people into the Chatswood CBD of an evening. Bringing Vivid to Chatswood was an idea I had, with the objective of highlighting our entertainment precinct, our restaurants and bringing life to the CBD. It took a lot of hard work and consulting with Council staff, businesses and Destinations NSW to bring Vivid from being solely a City of Sydney experience into Willoughby. I am proud to say this has delivered extra vibrancy and visitors to Chatswood with an annual $3.5 million in extra revenue for our local businesses.

Secondly, and in the context of our our Willoughby “Villages” rather than the CBD, I have been thrilled to have led the improvements now implemented to many of our parks, playgrounds and sporting facilities. We have achieved this while also investing in infrastructure, developing a new traffic and parking strategy, protecting our natural heritage and improving support for care of our young and elderly. We have plans to take this further, traffic, parking and safety being high priorities.

4. What is your vision for Willoughby?

My vision is to build on the existing strengths of Willoughby; a great mix of village lifestyles, the Chatswood hub, transport infrastructure, our beautiful bushland, supported by the financial strength of our Council. We don’t need drastic change but we do need to keep improving and ensuring that everyone in our community can benefit from what Willoughby has to offer.

5. What separates you from the other candidates?

Having been a Councillor since 2009, Deputy Mayor and most recently, for three years,  Mayor of Willoughby City, I am the only candidate with the experience, ability and demonstrated integrity to lead our Council. I have a passion for our community and would love to be re-elected for a further term to continue to deliver on the work I’ve started, with Council, for the benefit of all Willoughby residents.


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