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ALP Members Demand its Councillors Pull Support for Liberal Mayor 

Sep 4, 2023

Labor councillors Barry Calvert and Amanda Kotlash have been told by their branch to withdraw their support for Liberal Mayor Sarah McMahon in next week’s mid-term Mayoral election.

The move throws into doubt the chances that McMahon has of being re-elected Mayor after barely 13 months, where she has presided over an increasingly divided council. McMahon was elected mayor in August last year to replace her predecessor Patrick Conolly who stepped down after a home invasion. Last month, the Office of Local Government said that mid-term mayoral elections would be held  this month for councils with no directly elected mayors such as Hawkesbury City Council.

A motion before the Windsor Branch of the Australian Labour Party last Monday, August 28, was carried by an overwhelming majority, according to people present at the meeting.

ALP members in the Hawkesbury have been furious at the highly unusual support by the Labor councilors for the four strong Liberal Party block of councillors, that also includes Crs Conolly, Paul Viegel and Jill Reardon.

Will Labor’s Deputy Mayor Barry Calvert and Cr. Amanda Kotlash vote with the Liberals at next weeks Mayor election.

But Cr Calvert –  who is deputy mayor –  and Cr Kotlash are still able to go against their party’s wishes. This occurred previously where Cr Calvert backed Cr Conolly as part of a deal that saw him voted in as his deputy –  a job that comes with an extra $10,000 compared to the pay received by regular councillors. Kotlash, who stood but was eliminated in the first round due to gaining the lowest number of votes, abstained from the final vote.

“I don’t know if Barry was just thumbing his nose at the members or whether he had some sort of deal with the Liberals,” one ALP member said.

Cr Kotlash said she could not comment due to ALP rules.  ALP branch president Chris Haviland did not respond to requests for comment.

Cr McMahon has pursued councillors with whom she has taken personal issue, including two independents Nathan Zamprogno and Eddie Domagraci.  

Cr Dogramaci has been the subject of a concerted campaign by Cr McMahon due to his constant questioning and critiquing of how council is spending money and why. Council recently spent $46,000 of ratepayers money for a Code of Conduct charge that saw him sanctioned for using a council business card in state election materials.

Cr McMahon has gone further with Cr Zamprogno, a Liberal Party member, initiating a motion at the NSW Division of the Liberal Party’s State Executive – where she is a vice president – to have him kicked out of the Party altogether. Cr McMahon’s beef with Cr Zamprogno has been that he has not religiously supported her in council motions, preferring to go his own way on property development and heritage issues. The Hawkesbury Post understands that Zamprogno has fronted the party but not yet learned of his fate. He declined to comment.

Cr Zamprogno formerly sat as a Liberal councillor but was dropped from the ticket by his fellow Liberals in a factional deal on the Party ticket that later appeared to go sour. 

It remains unclear who will stand against McMahon next week with Cr Zamprogno rumoured to be planning a tilt. It would also be surprising if one of the Labor members did not stand given that since the last mayoral elections there has been a change of government in the NSW State Parliament.

Whoever is elected mayor next week will only hold office until the next council elections on September 14, 2024, due to the one year delay in the last council elections.

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