JEWISH Liberal candidate Leon Goltsman (pictured) romped home in last weekend’s by-election for Waverley Council’s Hunter Ward, with more than 76 per cent of the vote.
The Greens vote in the local council byelection dropped to 10.3 per cent, down from the 16 per cent the party enjoyed at the 2008 election. Labor won 13.6 per cent of the vote.
Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said there was “absolutely no doubt” that the NSW Greens’ support of the global Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel had affected the result.
“There was certainly a concern among our Jewish residents that they did not want a Green elected, for the specific reason that they didn’t want a motion to bring in BDS to come to Waverley Council,” she said.
Goltsman said he was thrilled with the result but said the real winners were Hunter Ward’s residents.
“I think the Greens and Labor would have put a lot of things at risk,” he said. “[BDS] did play a major part in it. I feel that a lot of people were threatened by that.
“This is one of the reasons why I felt it was necessary for someone to step up.”
Betts said there were factors, other than voter fear of the BDS campaign coming to the Eastern Suburbs, that saw Goltsman over the line.
“I think the other thing is people don’t like negative politics and the campaign that was run against us was personal and negative,” she said.
She also attributed the win to Goltsman’s strong personal attributes.
“One of the reasons is of course Leon is a fantastic candidate,” she said. “He’s Jewish, he speaks Russian. We’ve never had a Russian-speaking councillor before. Russian is our second-most spoken language in our homes [in Waverley].”