The town of Burnie in Tasmania, population 20,000, can claim that is the only city outside Greece and Cyprus that is run by a Greek mayor and a Cypriot deputy.
Following the October council elections, Steven Kons was elected mayor and Giovana Christofi-Simpson deputy mayor.
It’s an amazing feat for the two politicians as the town “has only a handful of Greeks, less than ten families in total,” says Kons.
For Kons, born in Melbourne to Greek immigrants from the Peloponnese, this is the third time he has been elected to head Burnie. He was voted in as mayor in 2011 and for the prior term beginning in 1996.
During the years in between he was involved in state politics, as a Labor MP for Braddon and deputy premier from 2006 to 2008.
Apart from his involvement in politics, Kons has a host of other business interests. He runs a bottle shop, has an accommodation business and has a property development business.
“I fill my days in pretty well,” he said speaking to the local press.
Kons’s parents worked in heavy manual laborers to enable him to receive an education beginning with his years at Caulfield Grammar School.
After the family moved to operate a Devonport business, he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Tasmania before returning to Melbourne to practice, mainly in the corporate sector.
Kons later returned to Tasmania and established a successful political and business career.
Giovana Christofi-Simpson, whose parents are from Cyprus, was elected deputy mayor.
Growing up in Northwest Tasmania with two sisters and a brother, they were the only children with Greek-Cypriot parents.
“We were just about the only Greek family,” she said.
The 49-year-old youth worker and community fundraiser was a former plus-size model. She is now the owner of Burnie’s En Vogue Modelling Academy.
In an interview with theadvocate.com.au, Giovana said being labeled a plus-size model didn’t alter her positive self-image because she is comfortable with who she is.
She said she first considered the idea of running for office eight years ago.
“It has been something that has been in the back of my mind for many years and I just feel that now is the right time for me to try,” the mother of one said.
“My decision is based purely on my love for my community.”
In a message on Facebook after her election she thanked all those voting for her. “My community means everything to me and it will be an absolute honour working for you, for our beautiful city and alongside an incredible team and leader in Steve Kons,” she wrote.