Crystal Lavigne upset to be excluded

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As the municipal election gathers steam, the issue of who should and shouldn’t be treated seriously as a mayoral candidate is once again rearing its head.

Political rookie Crystal Lavigne makes no bones she’s upset to be excluded from an upcoming mayoral forum organized by Hamilton business groups.

Lavigne, who runs a small landscaping business, says a lot of people want to hear her viewpoints and shouldn’t be prevented.

“I think when you have a bit of a public outcry that they want to hear from one specific person, I think the public should be catered to that way.”

That’s exactly the kind of blowback Keanin Loomis is expecting over the decision to limit the Sept. 18 mayoral forum to the top three contenders out of 10 registered candidates.

But the president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce argues the decision to include only Brian McHattie, Fred Eisenberger and Brad Clark is entirely defensible.

“Our members don’t want a circus — they want a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the issues that impact the business community and they want to be able to get on with their workday.”

To which Lavigne responds, “I really wish they would take me just as seriously as they take these people with so-called ‘money’ behind them to do this.”

RELATED STORY:  Why Crystal Lavigne is running for mayor

According to Loomis, the decision was reached by consensus with the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington and the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association, the other hosts.

Loomis says the 90-minute Q&A event at Michelangelo’s Banquet Centre, to be moderated by broadcaster Bill Kelly, is one of the few opportunities the business community will have to engage with the “serious” candidates and they want to use it to help members make an informed choice.

How do you measure ‘serious’? A number of factors went into the decision, Loomis says. It’s not whether a candidate has a legitimate chance of being the next mayor. It’s about their ability to meaningfully contribute to the debate and influence the outcome of the race.

Besides the Big Three, Loomis doesn’t see anyone else crossing that threshold. He may be right, with the caveat that in a very close race longshot and fringe candidates can be spoilers if they attract enough votes, dissenting or otherwise.

Besides the aforementioned, the other registered candidates are: Michael Baldasaro, Ejaz Butt, Mike Clancy, Nick Iamonico, Phil Ryerson and Ricky Tavares. None of them seem to be panting after the job.

Big Three aside, the only media releases I’ve received so far came from Lavigne and Brother Baldasaro. If memory serves, they’re also the only other candidates I’ve exchanged emails with.

True, Iamonico called the other day to ask why I don’t consider him a “frontrunner.” Based on our interview, it sounds like the only thing he’s done so far is spend $200 to register. Enough said.

In addition to Loomis’s metrics, the standards I use for gauging seriousness include a volunteer base, organizing, policy positions, fundraising, media releases, websites, canvassing, brochures and election signs. In other words, if you want the job, you have to work for it.

For her part, Lavigne says she intends to release a platform but won’t fundraise. They’ll be no signs or brochures for environmental reasons. She won’t have a campaign office. She’s hoping the news media will get out her messages for her.

She’s been invited to eight debates so far and will attend all of them. “Some subjects I’m very strong on and other subjects I’ll be very weak and I’m OK with that because I’m not expected to know everything. But I’m a very fast learner.’

Good luck to her and the rest of the longshots.

But there are more than 350,000 eligible voters in Hamilton across a wide area. If someone is running for mayor, surely they have a responsibility to proactively reach out to tell voters what they have to offer other than a name on a ballot.

Loomis is right: His position is entirely defensible.

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adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

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