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Lord mayoral candidate wants to fix "tainted' Adelaide

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Lord mayoral candidate Steven Kelly has accused unnamed opponents of misrepresenting the breadth of his professional experience to damage his candidature, which he says is aimed at fixing “tainted” Adelaide.

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Kelly says the Steven Kelly International School of Dance, listed at the same Grenfell Street address as The Loft function centre operated by him, is no longer owned by him and uses his name under licence.

He says he considers himself an entrepreneur, with business interests including nightclubs, an entertainment agency, an internet hosting company and coffee shops which are under development.

Kelly, who wouldn’t be interviewed over the phone or in person, responded to a series of questions from InDaily via email, including providing a lengthy account of his business history in Adelaide.

He also fleshed out his policy platform, which includes taking a personal hand in improving internet security at the Adelaide City Council, opening up free parking across the city, improving city nightlife, and fixing homelessness within 60 days of taking office.

“Dancing and dance studios was my parents’ main career, which they founded in Adelaide 1964,” he said.

“From an early age, I followed in their footsteps and have successfully continued my family name legacy to this day, while developing and pursuing other business interests and ventures. The dance studios are used with my name under licence and have my full support where it’s needed but the perception that I am a dance studio owner is incorrect – I do not own any dance studios currently.

“I believe that the reason some have referred to me only as a ‘dance studio owner’ is to devalue my experience and improve the image of other candidates.”

Kelly says Adelaide is a difficult city in which to establish a business, due to the difficulty of working with local government, “not that the Adelaide people are more difficult to please”.

“For the needs of my businesses I’ve dealt many times with ACC and city officials, something which I will admit wasn’t always a pleasant experience for me,” he said.

“After initial proceedings in different areas, I experienced multiple miscommunications, many months of delays with no real answers to why these problems occurred. After dealing with various government offices, departments and businesses, I came to realise how tainted Adelaide is in some areas. As a logical conclusion, it seems far easier for favouritism to form and grow in smaller cities where everyone knows everyone else.”

One of his aims if he became Lord Mayor would be to increase transparency and accountability of the council.

However, he did praise outgoing Lord Mayor Martin Haese whom he said was a “real gentleman and I envy his composed, classy style and approach to leadership”.

Like Haese, Kelly has extensive business experience.

In the emailed information he provided to InDaily, he lists four businesses he has been involved in over the past eight years including The Loft, a cafe franchise which he says is under development, the Dollynet internet hosting company, and Euroagency – an international entertainment agency of which he is CEO.

The Euroagency website says Kelly has run events in Adelaide, Greece and Russia, and appeared on Dancing With the Stars Greece, as well as managing Adelaide nightclubs Lava Adelaide, Madame Josephines and The Loft.

He told InDaily he wanted to improve Adelaide’s nightlife, particularly on weeknights when “things are too quiet”

“The city loses momentum and there aren’t enough reasons for people to remain or come back later into the CBD,” he said.

He also wants the city’s nightlife to be a “more vibrant, safer, thriving scene which can be enjoyed by anyone, at any time”.

“I have many ideas and suggestions that I will put on the table to achieve these goals,” he said.

His other policy goals include tightening up internet security at the council.

He has criticised Lord Mayoral opponent Sandy Verschoor and councillor Houssam Abiad for posting surveys online “using a cloud software company that’s based in the US; thereby sending personal data, your views and any answers people submit to a third-party privately held company…”

“Observing this I can’t start to imagine what else could be at stake.

“If elected I will personally walk through all of the offices of the Adelaide City Council and check all computers to see if they are secure and meet the requirements to be used for the ACC.”

However, he also wants to improve the general public’s awareness of online security and privacy issues, promising to establish a “dedicated awareness team” to provide free advice to city businesses, schools and residents.

Verschoor rejected Kelly’s criticism, saying her survey, to gather the views of ratepayers to inform her decision-making, was completely secure.

“I can absolutely guarantee that people’s data is not being shared with anyone,” she said.

On parking, Kelly said he would work collaboratively with the council and others to “examine every possible location to establish designated free parking areas within the city and surrounding streets, as well as converting some paid street parking into free parking”.

“If it was solely up to me, I would provide free parking throughout the city – provided that time limits would remain,” he said.

On his previously announced policy to end homelessness in Adelaide over 60 days, he said he had been asked frequently for details about the plan “and not in a genuine manner”.

“Homelessness is a very serious issue that I do not take lightly. The reason I have not disclosed more information about my views and solutions is because the question has been set before me with the sole purpose to challenge and discredit any solution I would then offer.

“What I can say however is that I am certain that with the cooperation of the various organisations, the Adelaide business owners and the general public I stand by my pledge that I will lead the way to end street homelessness in the City of Adelaide in my first 60 days in office.”

Kelly’s rivals for Lord Mayor include current councillor and arts administrator Sandy Verschoor, bookshop owner Kate Treloar, and lawyer and former councillor Mark Hamilton.

InDaily has attempted to contact Abiad for his response to Kelly’s criticism of his online survey.

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