It is perhaps one of the most intriguing and contradictory letters written by a former councillor I have ever read, gloating on one hand and aggressively attacking another councillor and residents on another.
It specifically ignores that less than 1 in 3 people voted for Liberals and the great majority of residents voted independent, by a significant margin.
Debby Dewbery calls out for a stop on personal attacks and then goes on to make a personal attack on another current councillor, Cr Eva Campbell, and the thousands of Camden residents that opposed some of the decisions made by this council.
There are so many other odd points in this letter that it is worth giving it a look over. So, let's go through some of the stranger claims in order.
Cr Dewbery claims she "made the decision to retire". Which begs the question, why did she still run for election in south ward if she was planning on retiring?
As it stood, Debby Dewberry picked up just 41 votes. (It is worth noting the councillor she attacked, Eva Campbell, picked up 1603 personal votes).
In her letter explaining the reasons for the "retirement", Cr Dewbery said her age was an issue and she had "many other bucket-list items to tick off". I hope that doesn't mean being a councillor was just an item on her bucket-list.
The real point here is would Debby Dewbery have still walked off into the sunset had she been elected? If so, it would have sent us back to the polls.
Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she intended to retire and ran for council as part of a political strategy to attract a few more Liberal voters to help get Peter Sidgreaves over the line. Call it a noble sacrifice for the Liberal Party.
A popular mayor
Debby Dewbery then claims Cr Lara Symkowiak would have been mayor if the office was elected by popular vote. But is that true?
Yes, the party vote for the Liberals was high in north ward - it's the blue ribbon Liberal area of Camden, as past election results show - but Cr Symkowiak's personal tally of 506 votes came in fifth behind Cr Rob Mills (3425) and Cr Eva Campbell (1603). Two candidates who didn't make the council Don Wright (815) and Danica Sajn (621) had better polling numbers.
By the popular vote calculation, Cr Rob Mills would be mayor and Cr Eva Campbell would be deputy mayor.
If we go by raw numbers given to party groupings it gets interesting too. Certainly, in north ward, the Liberals vote came first. But in south and central ward the Liberals were third every time.
In fact the total vote for the region is very telling and it goes a long way to explaining the level of anger in the community that the Liberals again control the mayoralty.
In total the Liberals received 13,153 votes across Camden and the ALP 10,245.
But here is the rub, the total vote for independent candidates was 17,709.
Clearly on that result the vast majority of Camden voters want an independent candidate and two wards went very close to kicking out the Liberals entirely.
The Dewbery letter
Time to stop rants
I would like to thank the community if Camden for giving me the opportunity to serve on the council for the past 12½ years.
I made the decision to retire from council as being the oldest person on council and at the age of 64 I felt I had many other bucket-list items to tick off.
It was disappointing that a chosen few thought thatpublicly vilifying me and my family in an effort to besmirch my reputation and that of my three fellow Liberal councilors, who proudly put themselves forward for another term would eliminate us from council.
How wrong they were.
Since the mayoral vote last week, the vile rants have continued.
Maybe we should have a new system of selecting the mayor by allowing the candidate who manages to get the most votes and their second candidate over the line to automatically become the mayor.
If that was the case, then Cr (Lara) Symkowiak’s selection as mayor would be correct for the last term of council and the new term given she managed at both elections to be top of the “class” with both criteria.
The continual rants from the chosen few in the community about “bulldozing” the heritage of Camden should cease after Camden has been voted one of the 50 top towns in Australia to visit by tourists.
Given that the champion of those chosen few, Cr Eva Campbell, has agreed with the result of the survey and has said she is not surprised by the result and that Camden is Sydney’s best kept secret, can anyone explain to me why the chosen few continue with the rant that Camden has been ruined because
It's about transparency
Debby Dewbery's final complaint is about the continual rants from the "chosen few" who accuse the Liberals of bulldozing Camden's heritage.
Mrs Dewbery fails to understand that people are angry about so much more than that.
Let's look at what the Liberal councillors have done with their power over the past four years. I've noted it before in this article from the original blog but lets briefly pass over why the community is angry one more time.
- The Liberals used their voting bloc to sack Camden Council General Manager Greg Wright and then used it again to ensure the reasons were never explained to residents.
- They stacked committees with Liberals (which has been repeated again in the new council - as you can see here) and added rules that ensured only Liberal councillors or their allies could attend and vote at the NSW Local Government Conference.
- They shut down public addresses on six occasions by members of the public who were critical of Liberal decisions.
- Changed rules to make submissions of petitions to council much more difficult after choosing to ignore a 4000 signature petition by the community asking for further consultation around Argyle St works.
- Made changes to the council's code of meeting practice that makes it processes less transparent.
- They also voted as a single group to a degree we have never seen before.
The council and Liberal councillors have aggressively attacked critics, pulling advertising from a local newspaper when it gave space to those opposed to council decisions and then pursued Camden Chamber of Commerce because it had been outspoken.
There is a pattern of behaviour that developed among the Liberal majority that does not want to listen to the concerns of residents if those concerns do not align with the Liberals approach.
The recent election shows that the great majority of Camden residents prefer an independent council.
Let's make this clear, less than 1 in 3 people voted for the Liberals, yet they now control the mayoralty, the great majority of the committees and if Cr Rob Mills remains in their pocket, the direction of this council for the next four years.
Debby Dewberry can believe what she wants but the people have spoken and once again the Liberals don't want to hear.