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Former Mayor Conolly to Walk Away from Council

Mar 29, 2024

Former Hawkesbury City Council mayor, Liberal Patrick Conolly will not seek re-election in the upcoming poll in September. The son of former state Liberal MP Kevin Conolly, he was first elected to HCC in 2012 in his 20s.

Conolly told his fellow councillors the news on March 26 a week ahead of nominations for Liberal Party pre-selection for local government elections. Several councillors told the Post that Conolly has appeared increasingly disinterested in the Council – he missed the last meeting – and there was little surprise about his decision.

Nominations open on April 3 and close on April 10, nominees have to be signed off by NSW Liberal Party headquarters. The council’s other Liberal councillors mayor Sarah McMahon, Paul Veigel and Jill Reardon have not indicated one way or another whether they will stand. McMahon’s domestic relationship with local property developer Matthew Bennett is understood to be attracting fresh scrutiny under the Minns’ government which may affect her chances if she wants to run again.

Former Mayor Patrick Conolly is quitting local council.

Conolly’s decision came only a week after another former mayor, the Australian Labor Party’s Barry Calvert –  who is currently HCC Deputy Mayor –  announced his retirement. The absence of the two long-time powerbrokers from the major party bloc that has dominated the council for two terms, will change the dynamic of the next council, no matter who is elected.

Conolly was mayor from 2020-20220 in the previous council, and was reelected to the position following the 2022 council election with the support of his three fellow Liberals and the two Labor councillors.

He stepped down in August 2022, three months after he was stabbed in a dramatic home invasion by up to six men that occurred while he, his wife and four children were asleep on the evening of May 15, 2022.

Police said at the time that he was not specifically being targeted by the robbers.

Shortly after Conolly’s election, then HCC General Manager Peter Conroy was forced out at short notice. The reason for Conroy’s departure has never been made public and a number of councillors do not know the reason either – they have not been told. He was later replaced by former inner city Council executive Elizabeth Richardson who recently gained a new three year, $1 million contract that was opposed by all but one of the Council’s independent and minor party members. 

Conolly also presided over the beginning of two infrastructure disasters: the damaged sewer pipe known as Rising Main C and the collapsed river bank at Cornwallis Road due to a failure of an unmaintained council drain in the Richmond Lowlands.

The sewer took two years to repair with the cost blowing out from $2.7 million to at least $35 million. The HCC was later forced to take out a $32.5 million loan to cover the cost for which ratepayers continue to pay.

Cornwallis Rd has morphed into an unprecedented ecological disaster that remains unrepaired today more than three years later. It has cost local landowners and farmers millions of dollars and its repair cost is estimated at up to $40 million.

Cr Conolly did not reply to a request for comment on his election plans.

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