Mayoral race gets down to business

By Andrew Dreschel

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Labour Day is over.

People are back from vacation. And the real municipal election period has now begun.

Among the 10 nominees running for mayor of Hamilton, the big names on the slate remain fixed at three — Councillor Brian McHattie, Councillor Brad Clark, and former mayor Fred Eisenberger.

That’s not to say the others — Crystal Lavigne, Ejaz Butt, Michael Baldasaro, Mike Clancy, Nick Iamonico, Phil Ryerson and Ricky Tavares — won’t be heard from on the campaign trail.

And a latecomer or two may yet enter the field before the Sept. 12 registration deadline for the Oct. 27 ballot.  (Photo above: L to R Brian McHattie, Fred Eisenberger, Brad Clark)

But as it stands right now, McHattie, Clark and Eisenberger not only enjoy the built-in advantage of strong name recognition, they’re well out of the gate with fundraising, volunteer, and campaign activities.

That’s to be expected, of course, since they’ve all played and won the election game before.

McHattie, who has represented Ward 1 in the west end for 10 years, stole a march on everyone by formally launching his campaign at the end of January and streamlining his platform into five key themes — stronger neighbourhoods, more open government, healthier environment, more jobs, smarter growth.

Since then, he’s been endorsed by the Hamilton and District Labour Council, soldiered more than halfway through his 100-day tour of Hamilton’s neighbourhoods, and plans to open his headquarters on Main West between Ray and Pearl streets this week.

If along the way it seems McHattie, 54, has gotten more attention than his opponents, it’s probably because he has, thanks to very active social media support and talking points such as dropping his boycott of the Red Hill Parkway.

But that doesn’t means McHattie’s name rivals have been dozing. Clark, a former Ontario Conservative cabinet minister who has represented Stoney Creek’s Ward 9 since 2006, has laid some solid campaign foundations.

RELATED: Pull the plug on Hamilton LRT: Mayoral candidate Brad Clark

In May, Clark conducted three telephone town halls in which he claims a little more than 25,000 residents participated.

In July, he opened his first headquarters on Upper James just south of the Linc. He’s now opened others in Dundas and on Main East in the lower city, with a fourth planned for Stoney Creek. That suggests both a healthy volunteer base and war chest.

From his town halls and communicating with residents at festivals and fairs, Clark has honed four key issues — spending tax dollars wisely, providing better municipal services, creating high-paying jobs and “celebrating” Hamilton’s distinct communities, an apparent appeal to suburban voters.

Clark, 54, intends to make individual policy statements as the campaign progresses. He’s releasing one Wednesday at his Dundas office on Cootes Drive.

Eisenberger, a preamalgamation Ward 5 councillor, was mayor from 2006 to 2010. He lost his re-election bid to Bob Bratina, who is now seeking the federal Liberal candidacy in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.

Eisenberger also unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2000. Like the other big names, his campaign website is up and running and he’s been busy recruiting volunteers and funding support.

His headquarters is at Mohawk and Upper Wentworth and he’ll officially launch his campaign in the next week or two.  He intends to roll out policy statements as the campaign progresses, partially with an eye to preventing his opponents from lifting ideas or picking them apart.

Though he hasn’t done any door-to-door canvassing yet, Eisenberger, 62, has shown his flag at numerous festivals and events. His main issues are economic development, job creation, service delivery, and tackling Hamilton’s whopping infrastructure deficit.

Given some obvious policy overlap between the Big Three, this race may very well come down to issue emphasis and personal temperament. In other words, which candidate is the best leader to steer council and guide Hamilton to the next level.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

3 Responses to “Mayoral race gets down to business”
  1. @TheBaldasaro If experience mattered, the Top Contenders at all levels of government would not have a National Deficit of 20 Billion, Ontario equal to that and all the Provinces. It’s about time we had an Chief Magistrate for Mayor. Same old suits and ploys for votes at election time only to come to the same desire to replace them next election. Tommy Douglas, you’re right, “Mice must vote for mice and stop voting for cats to govern them. And thank you Mr. Douglas for bringing us health care. Bless us all!

  2. Bonjour and hello to all city of Hamilton members, citizens, residences and visitors. My name is Ricky Tavares and I will be your mayor of Hamilton Ontario Canada in the near future. I was born here in city of Hamilton at St.Josephs hospital. I am here to announce now and to make this statement very public now that I will be the first mayor in Canada willing and proud to work for a minimum wage salary. I love Hamilton and I must protect our city. My colleagues, financial advisors and I have a 5 year plan to implement and generate 1 trillion dollars into the Hamilton city hall building within the next 5 years. I am sorry to announce now that I will only be your mayor for 1 term because this city is too small for me to lead and guide into a productive population. I will be moving to Ottawa to be your Prime Minister of Canada after 1 term here in the city of Hamilton as your mayor. Thank you for voting me Ricky Tavares as mayor of Hamilton on Oct 27.

  3. The reason why I am avoiding verbal physical communication with you and the other media outlets is because I do not want to give away my secret “5 year plan” on how I will and am very capable of generating 1 trillion dollars into Hamilton cityhall building. If I am not elected this year then all the idiots, unproductive, dumbasses that did not vote for me will have to wait another 4 years for next election before I start turning Hamilton into NEW YORK city. I want to make Hamilton the richest city in the world but these stupid, selfish, whitehaired, dinosaur, cavemen mayor candidates and the media are trying to stop me and getting in my way. Why will you wait until next election to vote me as mayor of Hamilton when you can vote me as mayor of Hamilton NOW so that Hamilton gives me the platform and exposure to be able to spread my wings and aggressively generate 1 trillion dollars of foreign currency into cityhall as fast as I can before other cities start to notice and copy my 5 year business plan.

    Right now my hands are tied because I am not mayor of Hamilton. I am not able to make Hamilton the richest city in the world and if I am not mayor then I will not share my secret plan with you or my competitors. Nicole, can you please ask all my mayoral candidate competitors to pullout of this election so that I am guaranteed to win ? If so, then I will appoint and hire some of my current mayoral competitors to work in my office right beside me because I can use their experience and their protection.

    I am serious. This is an emergency for city of Hamilton. You must vote Ricky Tavares for mayor of Hamilton because I will “put Hamilton on the world map” and “run with the big boys”.

    BTW, I do not smoke cigarettes, I do not drink alcohol and I do not smoke marijuana.
    Nicole, are you single ?

    Ricky Tavares

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