Q: What is an alderman?
A: An alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council in many jurisdictions founded upon English law. According to the Macquarie Dictionary, in Australia and America, an alderman is an elected local government representative, having powers varying according to locality. Formerly, in Britain, an alderman was a senior member of a county council or other local government body, elected by other members of the council.
Q: Where does the title ‘alderman’ come from?
A: The Old English aldormann or ealdormann. This was an amalgamation of ealdor which meant chief or elder + mann, man. It was originally used by the chief nobles presiding over English shires.
Q: What does an alderman do?
A: As an elected person, the role of an alderman is to represent the interests of the residents and ratepayers; to provide leadership and guidance to the community, and to facilitate communication between the community and the council.
Q: When and why did the name alderman change to councillor?
A: The title ‘councillor’ was adopted in 1993. Section 222 of the Local Government Act of that year stated ‘the elected representatives, called ‘councillors’ comprise the governing body of the Council.’ The City of Sydney Council minutes from Monday 28 June 1993 record the term ‘Alderman’. One week later, on Monday 5 July 1993, the minutes show the term Councillor had been adopted.
Q: Where does the title ‘mayor’ come from?
A: It is derived from the French word maire and originated from the Latin word major, meaning greater or superior.
Q: When did the mayor become the lord mayor?
A: In 1902 the City of Sydney was granted a Royal Warrant which created the lord mayoralty and entitled the sitting mayor to be styled ‘Lord Mayor of Sydney’. It was deemed to be a mark of respect for the standing of the city in the Empire and an honour to Sydney as one of the best cities of the world. Sir Thomas Hughes, the then incumbent mayor, thus served as the last mayor and the first lord mayor. In 1904 King Edward VII conferred the added privilege of allowing Sydney’s lord mayors to add the prefix ‘Right Honourable’ to their title. At the time, only 10 cities in the world had been granted this honour.
Q: Who was the first mayor of Sydney?
A: Alderman John Hosking. Unfortunately during the Depression of the 1840s he went bankrupt and had to retire from the Council in 1843.
Q: Who was the first City of Sydney female alderman?
A: The late Joan Pilone was elected to the City of Sydney Council in 1965.
Q: Why do boundaries change?
A: The city’s boundaries have expanded and contracted many times since 1842 and the city is no longer divided into wards. Since 1900, the boundaries have been fairly elastic. In 1909, the Municipality of Camperdown was amalgamated with the city and in 1949 Alexandria, Darlington, Erskineville,Newtown, Redfern,Waterloo, Paddington and Glebe were included. In 1968 the majority of these areas made up a new municipality of South Sydney. In 1982, South Sydney was brought back into the city but became independent again under the City of Sydney Act of 1988. The City of Sydney Council area contracted to 6.19 square kilometres, which made it smaller than its original size. The state government has the power to remove whole districts from the local government area, as it did with the creation of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority in 1968 and the Darling Harbour Authority in 1984.