Ward 3: Many candidates, few votes

The late Bernie Morelli trounced his nearest competitor by more than 1,400 votes in every Ward 3 election since amalgamation.

His successor will be lucky to escape Hamilton’s most crowded council race with that many votes in total.

Morelli died of cancer in January, spurring a 15-candidate battle for relatively few votes in the lower city ward.

“With that many candidates, you really have potential for a thinly spread vote,” said McMaster University political scientist Peter Graefe. “You might only need 15 per cent to win.”

That doesn’t represent many ballots in a ward with “historically low” voter turnout, said Josh Justice, whose election services firm PrimeContact has worked for candidate Ralph Agostino. Last election, 31 per cent or 7,329 of 23,670 eligible voters cast ballots, compared to 6,139 in 2006.

“This is a race that will probably be won or lost by a few hundred votes,” Justice said. “You may only need 1,500 votes to win it.”

Outgoing Councillor Bob Morrow said he’s hoping for a larger turnout — partly because of a “strong” slate of candidates, but also because of “dynamic changes” planned or under way in the ward stretching between Wellington and Ottawa streets and from the harbour to the escarpment.

The ward will be in the eye of the Pan Am storm next July, when tens of thousands of athletes and soccer fans descend on the city’s new $145-million stadium. The city is also investing unprecedented millions in area recreational facilities, while the public school board has contentious plans for a new high school.

Read the rest of the story on thespec.com

Photo: The $145-million Tim Hortons Field will put Ward 3 in the spotlight next July when the Pan Am games come to town for soccer events. Hamilton Spectator file photo

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