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Indigenous leader Yvonne Weldon enters race for Sydney mayoralty

By Matt O'Sullivan

May 14, 2021 — 5.32pm

Indigenous leader Yvonne Weldon has entered the race for the Sydney lord mayoralty, pitting herself against long-time incumbent Clover Moore and Labor councillor Linda Scott.

Ms Weldon, who is chairwoman of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, announced her decision on Friday to run as the first Aboriginal Australian candidate for lord mayor.

The Wiradjuri woman will replace independent candidate Kerryn Phelps, who bowed out of the contest early this month due to the health of a close family member.

Ms Weldon was originally part of Dr Phelps’ team to contest council elections on September 4.

Her decision to nominate as a candidate ensures a contest between at least three well-known women for the job of Sydney lord mayor.

Cr Scott, who has been on the City of Sydney council since 2012, confirmed in February that she would stand against Cr Moore, who is seeking a historic fifth term as mayor.

In 2016, Cr Moore secured about 58 per cent of the vote for the mayoralty, soundly beating Cr Scott and Liberal councillor Christine Forster, the sister of former prime minister Tony Abbott. Cr Forster decided in February that she would be retiring from the council.

The Liberal Party is yet to announce a candidate for the mayoralty.

Former Marrickville councillor Sylvie Ellsmore is the Greens’ lord mayoral candidate.

Ms Weldon, who grew up in Redfern, argues Sydney is at a crossroads as young people miss out on opportunities due to a lack of affordable housing pricing them out of the city.

“I am about all of us coming together; about us walking together but making this city inclusive for each and every one of us – not one part of society,” she said.

She launched her campaign in Redfern Park where Paul Keating delivered a profound message on Aboriginal injustice in December 1992 – as then prime minister – in his “Redfern speech”.

Asked whether she faced a tough task to beat Cr Moore for the mayoralty, Ms Weldon said: “Clover certainly is very popular ... and it’s a great honour to be up against her. I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy feat but there are always ways to approach it.”

Ms Weldon is also the deputy chairwoman of the NSW Australia Day Council, and sits on the board of both Domestic Violence NSW and Redfern Jarjum College.

Dr Phelps said Ms Weldon understood Sydney “like the back of her hand” and wanted a fairer and more inclusive society.

“This is a monumental moment ... where we are seeing the first Indigenous Australian nominate to the position of lord mayor of Sydney,” she said.

Elections for 126 councils in NSW were originally due to be held in September last year but the government decided to postpone them by 12 months because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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