Sameer Pandey, was fortunate to rub shoulders with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the first day of his job as the Lord Mayor of the City of Parramatta in Sydney.
It was May 23, 2023 and he had been elected the Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Sydney’s second CBD just the previous night.
For the migrant Australian, it was something of a fairytale, a dream that he perhaps had not seen, coming true.
But on September 23, just 18 weeks into his job, his term was cut short – purely due to internal wrangles of the Labor party.
‘In the morning, Parramatta’s mayor opened the city’s new pool. By dinner, he was gone’ the tongue-in-cheek headline read in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) the next morning.
It was cruel and disappointing for Sameer but not entirely unexpected as his term was to expire on September 25. But he was hopeful, on merit, he would win the party’s nomination.
Given his performance and profile and the broader requirements of the city to engage with India, the rising global powerhouse, Sameer’s re-nomination should have been just a formality for the Labor party.
But it seems, some honchos in the party hierarchy, did not want him to continue.
The SMH attributed it to ‘a bitter internal party dispute’.
“The party’s head office ordered a meeting of councillors, who voted 4-3 to not nominate Pandey for re-election…,” it wrote.
Sameer, although disappointed, decided to soldier on and win the position back on merit.
He has continued to work hard and tirelessly regardless.
“I have been honoured to serve as Lord Mayor of the City of Parramatta since my election on 22 May 2023, and I would like to thank everyone for placing their confidence in me,” says the former Lord Mayor.
“I am very grateful to have the opportunity to play a part in the ongoing transformation of our City, particularly in a time where we experienced incredible investment and delivered community infrastructure that has been in planning stages for years.
“Strengthening Parramatta’s brand globally as the diverse heart of greater Sydney and a destination for visitors, workers and students has been a key achievement during my time as Lord Mayor,” Sameer adds.
Citing some of the key achievements and milestones marked by Council during his time as Lord Mayor, he lists as below:
- Promoting Parramatta as a Global City
- Listening through Engagement and Collaboration
- Building World-Class Infrastructure
- Celebrating Arts, Culture, Sports, Recreation, Environment, History and Heritage
- Advocating for our City of Parramatta.
Prime Ministers Modi and Albanese unveiled a plaque to mark the gateway to Little India precinct in Harris Park.
Sameer is proud of the fact that Parramatta finds a place on the itinerary of world leaders.
“We are the heart of Greater Sydney and it’s time that we realise our potential on the global stage. We are clearly not a second city. We do not live in the shadow of other cities,” he says emphatically.
He has recommended a Tourism Strategy to promote Parramatta as a global destination of choice for visitors.
He has called for a Vivid Parramatta program, which will start to address the imbalance in funding festivals and events across Greater Sydney. Council also agreed to advocate to the NSW Government to help restore the balance between funding provided for destination marketing in the Sydney CBD and Western Sydney.
These are just some of the things he has been focused on. He is an educated and dedicated councilor who wants to see the city of Parramatta as a global city.
Sameer was elected Lord Mayor upon a vacancy created by Cr Donna Davis getting elected to the NSW parliament as Labor member for Parramatta. Her term originally until September 23 was thus cut short and filled with Sameer’s elevation to be the Lord Mayor.
Sameer is also a member of the Labor party and contested at the state elections for the seat of Winston Hills. He was not elected.
It is a pity that the Labor party apparatus chose not to re-nominate a star performer Lord Mayor like Sameer Pandey who had just 18 weeks in the job. His next chance will only come after the Council elections in September 2024
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