IT’S Luke Skywalker vs Obi-Wan Kenobi at the Bayswater council elections, with newcomer Steven Ostaszewskyj taking on his old school teacher and current mayor Barry McKenna in Central Ward.
Mr Ostaszewskyj, 39, says he’s wanted to be a councillor ever since he won a certificate of commendation from the city for his piano skills in 1996.
He visited Bayswater council chambers and says “ever since that time I’ve had an interest in local government”, finally deciding to run this year after seeing his mum’s council rates shoot up again.
“The status quo is not working,” Mr Ostaszewskyj says.
“This year, the rates are not acceptable. I need to step up and find new innovative revenue sources for council.”
He says revenue could be generated by rejuvenating the industrial areas of Bayswater, giving the city a healthier rate base to draw from and preventing residential rate hikes.
“There’s quite a few empty factories and businesses in the industrial areas here in Bayswater,” Mr Ostaszewskyj says.
“I visited Detroit in the rustbelt in America, their old industrial areas have been completely revitalised with pop-ups and art spaces. Those industrial areas that are dead are now thriving hubs, and I was thinking if we can get those into central ward and other hubs of Bayswater, that increases the city’s ability to gain rates. That’s my vision—making Bayswater an artistic hub.”
With the airport link projected to bring more people into Bayswater town centre he says “why not make Bayswater a real hub for tourism and arts?”
A draft of Bayswater’s town centre structure plan has sparked a biffo between pro-development and heritage groups in the city.
Mr Ostaszewskyj says he wants to see heritage buildings retained.
“I don’t have a problem with a six- or seven-storey development, as long as you maintain that heritage, and it absolutely must have a quality design so it fits in with the heritage character of the area and is sympathetic to its surrounds.”
Mr Ostaszewskyj works as a music teacher and previously spent a couple of years in New York, where he set up a piano school.
He says “running a business in one of the most competitive environments in the world” gives him a good insight into the needs of small businesses. He brought the school back with him when he returned to Perth.
Bayswater mayor Barry McKenna has been on council since 1991.
He says he’d like one more term and says the council could benefit from having his long-time experience on board.
Councillors Stephanie Coates, John Rifici and Alan Radford are retiring at this election, taking a lot of corporate memory with them (Cr McKenna says “Alan’s a very skilled councillor and just an unsung hero of our council,” with 16 years under his belt).
“A lot of new councillors coming on might be looking for a little more experience to assist them.”
Cr McKenna says they’re now living up to the name “The Garden City”, recently planting their 1000th tree, under the plan to expand the tree canopy, and employing full time arborist Mark Short.
“On top of that we’ve been pushing to be an open and transparent government,” he says, with measures like making the CEO’s KPIs publicly available, and recording and uploading audio of council meetings.”
Check out next week’s Voice for our comprehensive list of nominations for Bayswater and Stirling city councils.
by DAVID BELL