Here are the Jewish candidates for the NSW Council elections
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Here are the Jewish candidates for the NSW Council elections

Sixteen candidates from within the community are contesting the NSW local government elections on December 4.

Waverley Council Chambers. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Waverley Council Chambers. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sixteen candidates from within the community are contesting the NSW local government elections on December 4.

They spoke to The AJN about their motivations and issues of importance.

Leon Goltsman
Waverley, Bondi Ward • Liberal

Leon Goltsman doesn’t have political aspirations.

“I’ve always been involved in the community,” he said.

“A lot of the MPs today were at one stage councillors and they make their way up. That’s never been my aspiration.

“I feel people, all people deserve a voice. I think sometimes politics can get in the way of some of the best decisions and I’m happy to vote whichever way I need to.”

Looking back on his decade as a councillor, Goltsman said he is particularly proud of the “Eat, Pray, Naches” project he helped drive, which gathered the stories and experiences of second and third generation post-war immigrants to the Waverley area into a physical exhibition and online presence.

He said that with the Waverley LGA having the highest Jewish concentration in Australia, “it’s really important to to make sure that Jewish people are heard”.

“There are some things that unless you’re Jewish yourself, you just won’t know,” he said. “You have to experience it.”

Of his decision to seek re-election, Goltsman said, “Being on council is really a work in progress. There’s always something that we kick off that really does need that extra time. There’s a lot of good things out there that haven’t even been realised yet.”

Steven Lewis
Waverley, Hunter Ward • Labor

“THE council has operated very well over the past four years, have achieved a lot and that’s because most of the councillors are working towards a common goal.

“I was able to institute a number of programs that I’ve been working on and my major achievement was to widen Military Road at its pinch points,” Steven Lewis said of his first term. 

“Secondly, we were able to get through the restoration and rebuilding of the Bondi Pavilion. And also we’ve taken a strong stand against inappropriate overdevelopment, especially around Dover Heights and Rose Bay.”

Commenting on the bipartisan nature of the Council’s IHRA antisemitism definition adoption, he said, “It was good to see that we had support across the board and it’s an important first step, Waverley being the first council to adopt the guidelines.”

On the importance of serving, he said, “I’ve had a long involvement in the community affairs. I’ve been on the Jewish Board of Deputies. 

“I see my role on council as being an extension of that community work. It’s a good way in which we can combine both the Jewish community and the general community and bring them together to achieve an outcome which is best for everyone.”

Tony Kay
Waverley, Waverley Ward • Liberal

LONGTIME Councillor Tony Kay told The AJN he considers it a privilege to represent the community.

“I love achieving things for the community, both large and small, and I love improving people’s lives,” he said of his more than 17 years as an elected representative.

Looking back on the most recent term, Kay said he was elated to see Waverley pass his motion to adopt the IHRA antisemitism definition, becoming the first council in Australia to do so.

“The resolution will ensure that light is brought to the darkness, to create a safer and more welcoming Waverley, especially for our Jewish community,” he said.

Kay said he was also proud of an initiative to develop an Inclusive Play Space Study as a blueprint for older residents and their grandchildren, for example, to experience play and fitness equipment together.

In the coming term, he wants to begin a process to make Waverley the most accessible place in NSW, for council to get back to basics and fix things like pot holes and footpaths quickly, and improve the area’s playgrounds.

“I want to bring back a caring, authentic council where residents are listened to, responded to and actions expedited,” Kay added.

Max Siano
Waverley, Hunter Ward • Labor

MANY people in the area would already know Max Siano from the iconic Max’s Shoes. 

“I was 42 years in the business, I closed it five years ago. I was also 25 years with the Bondi Chamber of Commerce,” the son of Holocaust survivors said.

“I’ve been on the outskirts of council for such a long time. I wanted to make a difference. If I am elected to Hunter, I can use a lot of expertise I’ve got to help out.”

A resident of the eastern suburbs for the last 52 years, Siano has a long history of involvement with the wider community.

He liaised with authorities about traffic management and transport for the 2000 Olympic Games Bondi Beach volleyball. He was involved in upgrading Bondi Junction’s Oxford Street Mall. He consulted on safety issues with the Meriton above the train-bus interchange.

On behalf of businesses, Siano negotiated with council to be more flexible with parking meters at Bondi Beach and when Campbell Parade underwent an upgrade, he negotiated to ensure minimal disruption. He railed against the introduction of a bus lane on Bondi Road that would have affected businesses and had the decision reversed.

“I’m a good negotiator. The Chamber of Commerce taught me a lot,” he said.

Dov Frazer
Waverley, Hunter Ward • Liberal

AFTER being Dover Heights Precinct convener for seven years, US-born Dov Frazer is hoping to make the jump on to council.

“When I first moved here, I felt there was a real disconnect between the place and the infrastructure around it … while the nature is stunningly beautiful, the infrastructure – meaning the footpaths, the gutters, the condition of the reserves and the parks, all of the cityscape items – I thought were woefully lacking,” he said. 

“And that’s what got me interested in getting involved because I want my neighbourhood to look as beautiful as the nature that surrounds it.”

If elected as a councillor, Frazer said he feels “some of the things that are really important to me, like upgrading the parks and reserves and upgrading the streetscape in this area, could be done more effectively than as the precinct convenor”.

A member of Kehillat Kadima, he also volunteered for CSG for seven years.

“I find it really lovely having a community where people can walk to their shule, and are concentrated and they’re involved in the community,” he said.

“It’s really nice being in a community where Judaism is so well accepted and is just part of the fabric of life.”

Michelle Gray
Waverley, Bondi Ward • Labor

FIRST-time candidate Michelle Gray would like Waverley “to be seen as a leading council on everything environmental and climate related”.

“Local governments can play an important role,” she said.

“Things like composting on industrial scale. At the moment in Waverley, all of our garbage goes into landfill. I want more community gardens. I want to make sure that we phase out single use plastics. 

“I think it’s a really progressive and relatively affluent community in Bondi and I think they should be leading on that stuff, not following.”

In addition to seeing Waverley “get to net zero emissions as soon as possible”, Gray also wants to curb unsustainable development, improve day-to-day life and fix up amenities.

“An increasing sense of community is also something I care about, making space for people in the neighbourhood to meet and do things,” she said.

Describing the area as “just geographically beautiful” and “a melting pot as well”, she lauded “that community feel when you wake up on a Saturday and go get a coffee and you know most of the people in the street”.

A convert to Judaism, Gray and her husband are active members of Emanuel Synagogue and she is on the board of Emanuel Woollahra Preschool.

Joshua Spicer
Waverley, Waverley Ward • Liberal

THE opportunity to be an authentic voice for young residents, and to make a positive difference in the community, is what has driven Joshua Spicer to run for Waverley Council.

“If I was elected in my early 20s, I believe I would bring a fresh perspective to the council, and my background as a forensic accountant and engagement in civic issues would be an asset on council,” Spicer said.

“I would work with the council to get back to basics, to enhance the look and feel of our streets and parks, and upgrade Waverley Park.”

“Upgrading our roads and footpaths, scarce parking options, and the financial management of ratepayers’ funds,” are the biggest current issues in the area, he added.

Treasuring “the strong sense of community” in Waverley, and the beauty of its natural environment, Spicer added, “being Jewish, and contributing to my community, is very important to me”.

“I was elected to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, I was a Community Security Group volunteer, and an Australasian Union of Jewish Students campus vice-president,” Spicer said.

“And last week, at the NSW Young Liberals’ meeting, I moved a motion that successfully adopted the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism.”

Will Nemesh
Waverley, Hunter Ward • Liberal

LIBERAL councillor Will Nemesh has described completing his first term at Waverley Council as “a great honour and a privilege to serve”, and he is seeking re-election “to continue the work I’ve started”.

Nemesh told The AJN he campaigned four years ago on a platform of working to preserve open space, improve amenities and infrastructure – particularly in Hunter ward “so it can get its fair share” – and to ensure council rates are spent on core services.

Achievements, he claimed, include this year’s upgrade of Barracluff Park, securing funding for improvements to Clarke Reserve, and working with Councillor Sally Betts to push for additional development controls through rezoning in the Diamond Bay precinct.

Nemesh added, the Liberals’ team in Waverley has “got more Jewish candidates than any other ticket or party, and we recently achieved the passing of [a motion that saw the council adopt] the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism”.

“We’re very quick to act whenever there are antisemitic issues arising, and our team works very closely with the local Jewish community and Jewish communal organisations.”

Isabelle Shapiro
Woollahra, Bellevue Hill Ward • Liberal

IF re-elected, experienced Woollahra Liberal councillor Isabelle Shapiro has committed to achieving progress on delivering in the next term a new car park and integrated community centre in Rose Bay.

Shapiro also told The AJN she hopes to work towards delivery of further upgrades to shopping centres, parks and open spaces throughout Woollahra, adding, “the Double Bay Cinema is well overdue”. 

A former mayor and deputy mayor, Shapiro said the biggest current issue in Woollahra is over-development.

She lamented how “councillors are no longer involved in Development Application approvals, and many are disappointingly approved in the Land and Environment Court after first being refused by council’s planning panel”.

“To prevent over-development, Woollahra Liberals are working very hard to close planning loopholes and to introduce stronger controls.”

Calling for Woollahra Council to follow Waverley’s lead in adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, Shapiro revealed she is most proud of her work as a councillor on the award-winning Gap Park Suicide Prevention Masterplan.

Other achievements close to her heart include introducing a public art policy to improve amenity in parks and streets, a highly effective anti-graffiti policy, and an inclusion committee to advise council.

“I have been privileged to represent the residents of Bellevue Hill, and I hope they will put their trust in me again,” she said.

Richard Shields
Woollahra, Double Bay Ward • Liberal

“YOU initially go into politics for altruistic reasons, to try and help the community,” said incumbent Woollahra Councillor Richard Shields.

“Then you think ‘I really enjoy the cut and thrust of politics’. But then as you get older, you actually revert back to the original purpose as to why you got involved, which was to serve the community and to really give back.”

During the last term, Shields said he is particularly proud of standing up against overdevelopment.

“It’s a big issue and it’s something I’m very passionate about,” he said. “We have to be quite mindful of overdevelopment and putting strain on utilities.”

He is also proud of protecting the seawall at Yarranabbe Park and ensuring complaints about the state of the area’s parks are followed up. He said he is passionate about a cinema potentially returning to Double Bay.

“I’m a local, I remember fondly the Village Cinema on New South head Road. And I still think that there’s a role for a boutique-style cinema.”

If re-elected Shields said he will continue to work to preserve the natural beauty of Woollahra.

Sarah Swan
Woollahra, Cooper Ward • Liberal

“WHEN you’re not from somewhere and you move here as a child, you can see how good we have it here. And so I have this urge and this urgency to give back,” South African-born lawyer Sarah Swan told The AJN last week.

“I think that I have the right skills to be able to do a good job for the community.”

Asked what she loves about the Woollahra area, Swan cited the vibrancy of the Queen Street village – “it’s world class” – the beauty and greenery of Cooper Park and the area’s people.

“Everyone wants to put in to make it the best it can be,” she said. “It’s this energy that’s there.”

Her number one priority if elected would be to fight over-development. “I think we need to protect the heritage of the area,” she said.

“The next thing that I’d really like to see is just small things like improving community facilities. I’d really like to see a bubbler for example at the bottom of Cooper Park steps. And getting a dog bag dispenser as well in that area. So small things that will make a big difference.

“And then the last thing that I’m going to be focusing on is advocating for environmentally sustainable practices.”

David Tsor
Woollahra, Double Bay Ward • Liberal

AS one of the younger candidates running for council, David Tsor wants to increase the connection between the youth and local government.

“Not a lot of people, especially in my age group, are as familiar with the responsibilities of their council and what they can do for them,” he said. “So I guess one thing is to modernise it and make it more accessible for young people.”

Tsor has lived in the area since moving to Australia from Israel during the second intifada. “I’ve really grown up deep in the heart of the community and it’s the reason I want to represent the area,” he said.

“Relocating countries is always difficult. The fact that we were able to find a community like this, having moved here from Israel, definitely played a big part in my upbringing and how my political stance kind of developed.”

If elected Tsor said one of his biggest missions it to oppose overdevelopment. “One of the greatest parts of growing up here was just the beauty of the area, of the parks, all of that,” he said.

“And we want to keep it that way. We want to keep it beautiful. We want to keep it local.”

Michelle Falstein
Woollahra, Bellevue Hill Ward • Residents First

AS a long-term Woollahra resident, Michelle Falstein said she has experienced “all the issues” such as traffic, increased development and the lack of green space.

“During COVID everyone’s really appreciated that we need our outdoor space,” she said. “It’s disappointing … we have increased density, we’re just losing the green space that we really cherish.”

As the secretary of the Council for Civil Liberties, Falstein added that the issue of transparency is also very important.

“We should know exactly what our local governments are doing,” she said. “And residents should be able to really approach their councillors and be able to let them know what their issues are.”

The granddaughter of Jewish federal member Max Falstein, she said her forebear has been an important influence. “He had a very big commitment to service and he’s always been someone who’s been a very interesting part of my life,” she said.

“His family and extended family beyond that have been very important in my DNA and my makeup.”

Victor Ziegler
Randwick, Central Ward • Labor

VICTOR Ziegler is a familiar sight running around the streets of Maroubra. Now, the retired teacher, who covers around 120 kilometres on foot each week, is doing a different kind of running – for council.

“I want to be involved. I’ve always been involved in community, both in the Jewish community but also in the broader community in a whole range of areas,” he said.

“Having lived in Maroubra for the past 20-something years and in the eastern suburbs for the past 63 years, I feel I’ve got something positive to contribute.”

He said the City of Randwick LGA is “a wonderful area”.

“The people are wonderful, I think there’s a huge diversity of communities ranging from a very strong Jewish community to a very strong broader community … plus the aesthetics are just amazing,” he said.

With the Jewish population of the area steadily increasing according to census and Gen17 data, Ziegler said “having representation of not only their views, but also their individual needs being met by council is imperative”.

“And I think the council should reflect the community, and having significant Jewish populations there, we should have representation on both sides,” he said.

Ziegler added that he “couldn’t be more supportive” of the prospect of Randwick following Waverley Council’s lead and adopting the IHRA antisemitism definition.

Daniel Rosenfeld
Randwick, Central Ward • Liberal

DANIEL Rosenfeld’s desire to make a difference to improve street safety and parking in his local area, and to work closely with its small business sector to help address concerns, are key factors that inspired him to be a candidate in the upcoming Randwick Council election.

Rosenfeld told The AJN he views the area’s biggest issues as “street safety on Maroubra Road between Bunnerong and Malabar Roads – for both pedestrians and motorists”.

“And parking issues at Maroubra Beach and Maroubra Junction, as well as improving the night-time economy [in those areas].”

Rosenfeld added that if elected, he would also “work with Roads and Maritime Services to make improvements on and around Maroubra Road”.

Rosenfeld said he is very proud of his Jewish heritage, he enjoys keeping its various festivals and traditions, and deeply appreciates and values the natural assets of Randwick including its beaches and parks, plus the strength of character of the area’s people.

Michael Gencher
Pittwater Ward • Your Northern Beaches Independent Team

Michael Gencher said he’s running as an advocate for families and businesses.

“I am passionate about continuing to build a more liveable, vibrant, environmentally sustainable, and supportive community, while striving to provide the best possible service and amenities, and to make sure the needs of the entire community are met,” he told the Northern Beaches Review.

Pledging to “protect Pittwater from inappropriate overdevelopment through tighter planning controls, intense scrutiny and community consultation”, Gencher said he stands for “greater community safety and wellbeing, and issues including traffic and pedestrian danger spots; access to services; community cohesion; promoting mental health awareness; identifying and helping ‘at risk’ members of our community; and youth issues”.

“I will advocate for business, families and community groups by continuing to support and find new initiatives to assist them,” he added.

The AJN does not endorse any political party or candidate.

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