Meet the candidates


John Stamolis


John has been the Chairperson of the Balmain Precinct for the last 10 years and looks forward to bringing the voice of the community to Council.

What will you contribute to the community if elected?
It is important for Council to represent all voices in the community. As a committed and hard-working Independent, I will add a different voice and some balance to Council.  My voice will be a community voice rather than a political party one.
I will bring a vast amount of knowledge about our community, coming from my 10 years of solid work as the Chairperson of the Balmain Precinct (residents committee) and through my four years as a Councillor. As a Councillor and Precinct Chair, I successfully handled all issues, no matter how big or small, all with the same high level of care and responsibility and in the best interests of our community.

What issues do you think are important to the Leichhardt LGA and Birrabirragal ward particularly?
As a community, we are concerned about the Balmain Shopping Village and the increasing number of empty shops. One of the most attractive features of living in Balmain is the mixed and vibrant business community, which is something we all want to retain.
Local planning is also a concern. Overdevelopment has placed pressure on us and how we live in our community.  This must change and we must focus on providing amenity for our changing and diverse community, with emphasis on families with young children and the growing number of seniors in our area.
Another key issue for residents is the performance of Council itself. Council’s financial accountability and responsiveness to our needs is essential. There is an increasing lack of Council engagement with the community and many people are disappointed about how Council has disregarded and dismantled a number of important community-based consultative processes.

What is your favourite part of the campaigning process?
I enjoy door knocking. It is a way of connecting with my community and hearing their thoughts and ideas for our future. I have gained some of my strongest policy initiatives from listening to people.

What is the nicest thing a local has said to you by way of support?
It is always nice when people recognise the things that I have done. For some, it is opening up Balmain Library on Sunday, for others it was no-smoking in alfresco dining and most like the new access to the White Bay foreshore.
Many residents have commented on my leadership of community campaigns, which have resulted in much better outcomes for our community. The nicest thing, however, is when they say that they have valued my contribution to the community over many years.



Aaron Di Pietro


Aaron is a Balmain local from way back who is looking to bring some fresh ideas to Leichhardt Council.

What will you contribute to the community if elected?
I grew up in Balmain and I’m passionate about ensuring it remains a vibrant and beautiful place to live. If elected I’ll work hard to engage with the community on all local issues to ensure residents have a real connection with their elected representatives. I’m full of energy and enthusiasm for Balmain and I’ll be bringing a fresh new approach and plenty of new ideas to Council.

What issues do you think are important to the Leichhardt LGA and Birrabirragal ward particularly?
Having a vibrant and sustainable high street that all locals can enjoy is an important part of the Balmain village community. Being able to park your car and do your groceries with 30 minutes free parking is crucial for both residents and local businesses. I’ll fight hard to keep it in place because some of the current Councillors have tried to get rid of it.
Furthermore, with a huge a baby boom happening in the area, I know that local families need better access to childcare, great schools and sports and recreation facilities.
Many older residents I’ve spoken to also need help maintaining their homes so I’ll be fighting hard to expand Council’s home handyman service as well as getting another community bus in place. I believe the people who built this community should be able to stay in their homes longer and enjoy all Balmain has to offer.

What skills will you bring to council?
I went to Nicholson Street Public School and I live in Balmain so I understand both the joys and challenges of day-to-day life in here.
Having worked in the media for almost 10 years, I know that we have a well educated, professional population but that many local people are time poor and need the Council to protect their quality of life. Locals need a strong representative who is passionate about the local community and is willing to put in the time to have a genuine, open and ongoing dialogue with them.

What is your favourite part of the campaigning process?
Knocking on doors and holding street stalls; it has been so lovely to see so many familiar faces from my school years, old friends of the family and owners of some of the old local businesses that have been closed for many years. It’s a reminder of just how tight-knit the Balmain community is.

What is the nicest thing a local has said to you by way of support?
My wonderful Grandma and mother have been coming along to lots of campaign events. Last week I spoke to one woman who said, “I’ve had a call from your mother, a flyer from your grandma and it’s nice to finally meet you. You’ve got my vote, but I wish I could vote for the whole family!”



Derek Bolton


Derek is an IT professional and long-time Balmain resident who has campaigned actively for the environment and local action on climate change and hopes to be a strong voice for residents, the environment and community
he cares about.

What will you contribute to the community if elected?
I have lived in Balmain for over 30 years. I love living here, and I’m committed to protecting the Balmain community’s heritage and environment. I’ll continue the Greens’ campaign to ensure Leichhardt Council puts more money into basic infrastructure, particularly our local roads, footpaths and cycleways and local parks. I will also campaign for better public transport; more buses and the extension of the light rail to Balmain.
At the same time, it is critical that we keep costs down and ensure Council is financially sound and accountable to the residents, as well as being open and transparent.

What issues do you think are important to the Leichhardt LGA and the Birrabirragal ward particularly?
We are at risk of losing our right to have a say in local planning decisions. Labor and the Liberals have voted them away but with my Greens colleagues I will fight to save them. We also need to keep the half-hour free parking.
Action on climate change is important to Balmain residents too. Solar PV installations are lower per household in Leichhardt than in seven of our eight neighbouring LGAs. Many more residents could be saving money on their power bills. Council can help to make the process easier. It’s time to restore the civic park at Balmain Post Office. This would create a great open space for the community and open up the historic façade of Balmain Post Office. We need to open up the foreshores along White Bay as well, and we need real action on the noise and pollution generated by cruise ships at White Bay.

What is your favourite part of the campaigning process?
It isn’t so much a single moment as the enormously encouraging level of support. As I knock on doors and explain who I am and what I stand for, the response is so positive. It is a real privilege to be the Greens’ candidate and to meet and talk with so many people.  I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life and the support so many of them have given me and the Greens. Residents and business owners really appreciate someone standing up for their community.

What is the nicest thing a local has said to you by way of support?
One lady grilled me for some minutes with some tough questions. She was happy with my answers, then said, “Sorry for all that, I probably would have voted for you anyway.” That made me feel good because it showed I have the support of people who pay attention to the issues.



Michael Manikas


Michael Manikas, CEO of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, is personally vested in bringing change to the Birrabirragal ward as part of his tribute to his late wife, Melinda Manikas.

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance launched the campaign of the Liberals’ Michael Manikas for the Balmain ward by-election on 2 August in Balmain.

Mr Constance said that Mr Manikas’ selection as the Liberal candidate showed the party was serious about retaining the seat it won at the 2012 local government election.

“Michael Manikas’ strong leadership as CEO of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and his long-standing involvement in his local community means he is the right man to make a difference for the people of Balmain.”

Mr Manikas was preselected unopposed by the Leichhardt Local Liberal team for the Balmain Ward seat on Leichhardt Council held by his late wife, Cr Melinda Manikas, who passed away in May after a long battle with breast cancer.

The NSW Treasurer also highlighted the support of the Baird Liberal-Nationals Government for infrastructure projects in the Leichhardt municipality, including $397,641 for Seawall and Foreshore renewal and $417,778 for the Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre pool upgrades.

“These major community infrastructure projects will provide long term benefits for the people of Leichhardt, once again demonstrating the Baird Government’s commitment to rebuilding New South Wales after 16 years of failure and neglect by the Labor Party.”

Mr Manikas welcomed Treasurer Constance’s comments, noting the hard work of the Leichhardt Council Liberal team to secure funding for these projects from the NSW Government.
“Melinda got elected to Council to work with the Liberal team to make a difference to her community. I want to join the Liberal team to continue the work she began to make Balmain a better place for all residents.” Mr Manikas said.

What will you contribute to the community if elected?
I hope to continue with the good work Melinda started, focus on improving the community and balancing the council budget.

What issues do you think are important to the Leichhardt LGA and in particular the Birrabirragal ward?
I believe local rates should be used for local priorities and focus on local infrastructure and maintaining that infrastructure, for example roads and footpaths.

What credentials/skills will you bring to council?
I’ve had 20 years experience as a quantity surveyor and have good management skills and financial skills.

What is your favourite election moment?
Watching my three year old daughter Victoria help out with the campaign.

What is the nicest thing a local has said to you by way of support?
“It is wonderful to see you follow on from the great work of your wife, Melinda Manikas”

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