Helena Croft, who has lived in Lewisham since 2016, is hoping to become a councillor in the May by-election.
Cllr Tom Copley stepped down earlier this year after becoming Deputy Mayor for Housing.
Mrs Croft, former deputy leader of Horsham District Council before being deselected as a candidate ahead of the elections in 2015, said there is a need for opposition in the council, which except for one Independent, is made up of either Labour or Labour and Co-operative councillors.
“At present the Labour leadership in the Town Hall is left to mark its own homework and local people are paying the price – an opposition in the Town Hall would mean somebody to challenge Labour’s culture of arrogance and complacency,” she said.
Mrs Croft criticised the council’s response to the controversial Lewisham and Lee Green low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) and the performance of the borough’s secondary schools.
“An opposition in the Town Hall will also ensure taxpayers money is being well spent and on the right priorities – this year alone we’ve seen the council recruit a new head of communications on 2.5 times the average salary in Lewisham and a political assistant on £34,000 a year to focus on drug law reform, despite the council having no power on this.
“Fourteen executives at Lewisham Council earn more than £100,000 a year with the highest paid earning close to the Prime Minister’s salary.
“An opposition in the Town Hall will hold Labour to account and campaign for less money spent on executives and more on delivering the services local people rely on,” she said.
The women’s charity director said the council should focus on improving school standards, tackling rising crime rates, improving local transport, and supporting high streets.