Mayor Lara Symkowiak feels “privileged and honoured” to have been the mayor of Camden Council for the past six years.
But the soon-to-be mother of three will stand down from the role at tonight’s council meeting, deciding not to re-contest the position at the annual mayoral election.
She remains a councillor and will now turn her attention to spending time with her growing family.
“I feel it is the right time for me to take a step back to enjoy spending time with my next baby,” Cr Symkowiak said. “This baby will be my third in three years and it is due in a couple of weeks. I’ve decided it is time to take a proper maternity break.”
Cr Symkowiak said it would be “weird” to no longer sit in the mayoral chair and to be on the sidelines.
“I’m sure it will take some adjusting,” she said. “Being the mayor is a tough job.
“It is also a very special and unique role. I feel so fortunate to have been the mayor for any amount of time let alone six years.
“The role is a lot more than chairing the council meeting or going to openings of events. There are a lot of time pressures and there are many people the mayor needs to talk to and meet. It is a full time role.
“I’m sure whoever takes on the role will find their feet and own style, like I did.”
Councillor Peter Sidgreaves is expected to be voted in as the new mayor.
The outgoing mayor has a long list of achievements that have been started or completed under her leadership.
Notably, she is proud of the council’s commitment to creating excellent sport and recreation facilities in Camden.
These include: Narellan Sports Hub, Birriwa Outdoor Youth Space, Mount Annan Leisure Centre expansion, masterplans and funding for Kirkham Park re-development and Ferguson land cricket centre.
Not to mention the works in progress which include stage two of the Narellan Sports Hub, synthetic fields, Oran Park Leisure Centre, water play parks at Elderslie and Oran Park as well two new recreation spaces at Harrington Park Lake and Currans Hill.
“I would have liked to see out the opening of these projects,” Cr Symkowiak said.
The mayor was also at the helm when the Argyle Street improvement works and Oxley Street car park were completed and oversaw the conversion of the Macaria building into the Alan Baker Art Gallery.
“Camden Council also received a "Fit for the Future" financial assessment,” Cr Symkowiak said. “Only seven out of 42 metro Sydney councils got this rating.
“This shows we are managing our ratepayers’ money appropriately and sustainably.
“This allowed the council to complete those ‘cherry on top’ type projects.”
Camden Council has also become a no kill council, promoted pet adoption, hosted Paws in the Park events and introduced ranger talks to school children.
Cr Symkowiak also cites the improved mowing services, public space maintenance, footpath improvements and street beautification works as wins.
The mayor has also worked with and fought alongside residents against numerous developments including the Main Street Mount Annan proposal. She also helped advocate for the South West Rail Link and M9 Outer Sydney Orbital to be built underground.
“Camden’s population has exploded,” Cr Symkowiak said.
“There will always be challenges and growing pains and we aren’t perfect but I am proud of what the team and I have achieved for existing and new residents.”
Cr Symkowiak wanted to thank several people for supporting her through her leadership.
“Thank you to my team deputy mayor Theresa Fedeli and councillors Peter Sidgreaves, Michael Morrison and Rob Mills,” she said.
“Camden MP Chris Patterson, who I was on council with from 2008 to 2012, has given me advice, guidance and support and I'm very grateful to him.
“It's been a great partnership at a council and state level and we have achieved many fantastic outcomes.”
“Thank you to the residents and community leaders who have supported me.”
The mayor also thanked general manger Ron Moore and all the council staff.
“I have worked with Ron for five and a half years,” she said. “Camden and the council would not be where it is today without him.
“He has also supported me through personal struggles such as the passing of my father and the happier times like the birth of my children.”
Cr Symkowiak also thanked her husband Andrew for his constant support, especially through the tough and stressful times.