Candidates Speak: Fred Eisenberger

The Spectator is inviting all registered municipal candidates  to submit one piece of commentary, to be published in the paper and online.  See below for more information.  This is the firstby Fred Eisenberger

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eisenberger-headandshouldersI am running to be Hamilton’s next mayor. Why am I doing it? After all, I’ve been there before. Why do it again? Is it just to be the Comeback Kid? What has changed since the last time I ran?

While being the Comeback Kid has an undeniable appeal, my reasons are much more than that.

I love my city and I want to see Hamilton and its people prosper, not only now, but 15, 25 even 100 years into the future. Creating a prosperous city of the future means making the right decisions and often very tough choices in the here and now. The ability to get the right issues on the table and then make the right decisions, takes leadership.

I am uniquely placed to provide that leadership. Why? Well, for one thing, I have been there before, as a council member and as mayor. I know council and I know the city administration, so I will be able to hit the ground running.

Was I a perfect mayor before? Obviously not, otherwise I would have been re-elected! So what has changed? The answer is, I have changed, and I have changed in three fundamental ways.

First, the result of the last election forced me to step back and re-evaluate, not only how the city is run, but I also took a long hard look at myself as a leader and as a person.

I learned that I can’t let my determination to do right for the city — a positive thing — harden into stubbornness, which is negative. I must never lose sight of the need to be collaborative because out of collaboration flows compromise and that is always where the best decisions reside.

It would be immodest to say of myself that I have gained some wisdom, but I do feel I have gained a wiser, steadier, more temperate view of the world, our city, and the issues we face.

The second way I have changed is my perspective. Since the last election, I have not been sitting idle. Indeed, as president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, I was given a wonderful vantage point on cities all around the world and how they approach many of the same issues we face here. It amounted to virtually a graduate level course on the very best of world-wide urban thinking and progress.

All the while, my framework has been, and always will be Hamilton. As such, the wheels in my head are always turning as to how we can adapt this or that idea and make it work for Hamilton.

The third way I have changed is by becoming a better listener — listening more closely to people’s concerns and taking more time to hear about their needs and desires for a better Hamilton. I have a good understanding of the tough issues facing our community, but it is also important to remain sensitive to the issues as defined by our people.

Our diverse community is faced with significant issues such as poverty, unemployment, child care, the need for equity and inclusion, better transit and safe neighbourhoods.

As your mayor a key focus for me will be economic development. In my first term as mayor, we boosted the city’s annual economic development budget by an unprecedented $1.5 million, and today we are reaping some of the benefits of that investment.

Economic development can take many forms, and getting it right can happen only in consultation with the community so we have a firm grasp on the needs and concerns of the people of Hamilton.

I am supportive of LRT for our city because it will bring millions of outside investment dollars to our community, resulting in thousands of new jobs, and also because of the major economic uplift and additional revenue it will create for the entire city.

While there has been solid public support for LRT, many people still have real concerns about the cost of LRT and the impact on the urban landscape. These concerns can and must be answered.

We need to restart a robust public discussion and increase awareness about the costs and benefits of all options for public transportation, if for no other reason than to help people gain a better understanding of the potential benefits of LRT. Then, and only with significant community support, can we move this city-building project forward with vigour.

I am a proud, Dutch-born Hamiltonian. I am frugal and loath wasted money, time, space and resources. I would never advance or support anything that did not demonstrate significant economic and social benefit for our great city.

I am bursting with energy and passion for my city. I have the vision and determination to lead Hamilton so that it can become the ambitious city of the future that it deserves to be. It is going to take a thoughtful approach and meaningful collaboration, and I am ready to provide both. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Together, we can dream. We can build. And we can create our Hamilton of the future, today.

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Note to all registered municipal election candidates:

The Spectator’s editorial board is inviting all registered candidates in this fall’s election to submit one piece of commentary, which we will publish on the Comment page and online. There are some conditions attached to this offer.

• Submissions must be no more than 750 words in length and will be subject to editing for length, clarity and taste.

• Submissions that are personal attacks on incumbent politicians or anyone else will not be published. This offer is intended to give candidates the opportunity to express why they’re seeking office and what they will do if elected.

• Submissions must be accompanied by a photo of the author, in the form of a high-resolution jpeg image attached to the same email as the submission.

• The Spectator reserves the right to reject submissions if deemed inappropriate.

• Publication timing will depend on the volume of submissions and is the decision of The Spectator’s editorial board. Send submissions to




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