Stephen Bali could soon be the mayor and state member for Blacktown.
Blacktown MP John Robertson made the shock announcement last Thursday he would be retiring from state politics this month.
His last day in office will be August 25, and three days later he starts work as the general manager of charity Foodbank ACT & NSW.
“I’d arrived at the conclusion I wasn’t going to go round again in 2019,” Mr Robertson told the Sun on Monday.
“This [offer] came out of the blue and I feel very fortunate to go and work in an organisation that’s doing such great things to address the problems around hunger.
“I feel very lucky to go and do something that I’ve been volunteering at, so I clearly believe in, where I can continue being true to myself and what I believe is important.”
Mr Robertson said it was an “honour and a privilege” to serve the people of Blacktown, and one of his main regrets was not securing a lift for Doonside train station during his six years.
It’s a cause that has been enthusiastically championed by Stephen Bali – a proud Doonside local and a potential Labor nominee for the November by-election.
“I only get one preselection vote, but I’ll be encouraging everyone to vote for Stephen Bali,” Mr Robertson said.
“I think he’d make a great representative for Blacktown. He’s doing a fantastic job as mayor, he’s driven, he’s passionate, he’s energetic, he’s got a real vision for Blacktown, and I think he’s demonstrated that in his time as mayor.”
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Cr Bali indicated his interest in the position, saying he would be “honoured” to represent Blacktown.
The mayor could potentially remain on Blacktown Council for up to two years after being elected to state parliament, as noted with recent examples including Mount Druitt MP Edmond Atalla (Blacktown Council) and Seven Hills MP Mark Taylor (The Hills Council).
Cr Bali said he would like to remain mayor as long as possible in order to continue with his projects at a local government level, including attracting a multi-faculty university to Blacktown and revamping the CBD.
Mr Robertson said his Labor colleague, who also comes from a union background, is “more than ready” for state politics and “pretty well-regarded” by the NSW government.
Blacktown is a safe Labor seat, held at the 2015 election by a margin of 13.2 per cent.