Simpson replaces Pesce as mayor of Sutherland Shire

Cr Steve Simpson after his election as mayor on Monday night.
Cr Steve Simpson after his election as mayor on Monday night.


Carmelo Pesce's time as mayor of Sutherland Shire is over, with independent Steve Simpson elected to fill the role for the next 12 months.

The surprise change came at tonight's council meeting after Labor councillors offered to support Cr Simpson, a former Liberal, for the role.

Cr Simpson subsequently used his vote to help elect Labor councillor Michael Forshaw as deputy mayor.

Both councillors denied there was a deal.

"Michael didn't know which way I would vote [in the deputy mayoral vote]," Cr Simpson said later.

Cr Forshaw agreed that was the case.

Mayor Steve Simpson and deputy mayor Michael Forshaw.

Mayor Steve Simpson and deputy mayor Michael Forshaw.

There are seven Labor councillors and seven Liberal councillors, with Cr Simpson having the deciding vote in both ballots, which were by show of hands.

Cr Pesce, who had been mayor since 2016, was nominated by the Liberals for both positions but he was defeated 8-7 in both ballots.

Two years ago, Cr Simpson did a deal with the Liberals to elect Cr Pesce as mayor, in return for the deputy's position.

Cr Forshaw said after tonight's election Labor councillors believed "at the end of the day, it was appropriate there be a change in the leadership of the council".

"If I couldn't succeed, I was happy to support Steve, an independent who is respected by both sides," he said.

It is the second time Cr Simpson has served as mayor. His previous 12-months' term was in 2013.

"My only credentials are 'what you see is what you get'," he said.

"I am here to serve the community. It is an honour to be first elected to council; it is even more of a honour to be elected mayor."

Cr Simpson has been a councillor for 25 years. He lives at Alfords Point and represents E Ward, which covers the Menai area and Woronora.

Cr Simpson was initially a Liberal Party member, but was dumped from the team before the 2015 election and stood successfully as an independent.

"I've always appreciated how lucky I am to be part of such an amazing, vibrant and caring community and am passionate about preserving the unique character of this incredible part of the world," he said in a statement.

"I have a deep appreciation of the challenges faced by our local business sector, but also the incredible resilience it has shown in overcoming these hurdles.

"Like communities throughout the state and across the globe, we face significant challenges in tackling the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting our local residents and businesses through this trying period."

Cr Simpson welcomed the election of Cr Forshaw as deputy mayor.

"Cr Forshaw is a passionate advocate for our local community, and I look forward to working closely with them over the next 12 months," he said.

""Having served as a councillor for 4 years, and having served as a federal Senator for 17 years prior to that, Cr Forshaw brings a great deal of passion and experience to the role, and I am incredibly fortunate to have him serving alongside me."