Meet the NORTHERN BEACHES MAYOR
When Michael Regan was declared Mayor of the Northern Beaches and Candy Bingham deputy on September 27, they didn't waste any time getting down to business.
At the first meeting, the 15 elected councillors rescinded the controversial dog ban former Council Administrator Dick Persson installed in August, which banned off-leash dogs at Manly Lagoon - and Mr Regan says it's a symbolic start for the new council.
"Our mantra has always been 'local solutions for local problems' - not 'one size fits all'," Mr Regan tells Peninsula Living, "and we're keen to make sure that mantra exists across the new council. It's critical for transparency for that to happen."
Mr Regan was the first directly-elected Mayor of Warringah in 2008, and was re-elected in 2012 with an increased majority. During his eight-year mayoral term, he led Council to deliver on increased services and invest more than $100 million on capital renewal of public assets - from sporting facilities to Glen Street Theatre.
Earlier this year, the father-of-two formed the Your Northern Beaches Independent Team (YNB) - which isn't beholden to any major political party - and it dominated the recent elections, gaining six of the 15 positions on the new council.
"The whole campaigning was exhausting, but humbling, exciting, and now we're a brand-new council," he says.
"This council has only existed for the past 17 months and we're the people elected to represent it, so it's historic, a fabulous opportunity and really exciting."
When it comes to urgent priorities, as well as reversing the dog ban at Queenscliff, Mr Regan says Council wants to do a complete review of dogs' policies across the entire Northern Beaches.
"Dog owners are always saying there aren't enough green spaces for them - especially to go off-lead - so that's something we're very keen on fixing," he explains.
Many Pittwater residents are fearful the Liberal and YNB council majority means overdevelopment, but Mr Regan says, "It's really simple - as a council, we can stand up to the state government and hold them accountable."
Ultimately, the state government decides what happens, but he insists Council will demand "infrastructure before development".
"One of the critical pieces of infrastructure this council needs to focus on over the next couple of years is getting the East-West public transport link -Dee Why to Chatswood via Frenchs Forest Hospital," he says.
"It would be some form of light rail and take pressure of Military Road, and it helps the community to circulate." When it comes to installing rail in the proposed Beaches Tunnel, Mr Regan claims, "The state government has built the B-Line into the city. It also may or may not build the tunnel.
"Irrespective of the tunnel's expense, there must be dedicated 24-hour public transport, and it makes sense to have the space to install a rail lane at a later stage if they can get the gradients right - but I'm not an engineer so not sure what's involved. I was never any good at Lego!"