At a time where we need a constant leader at the helm, we've somehow managed to keep weeding out the contenders in hopes of finding the right person for the job.
By Daniel Rodrigues
Published November 05, 2010
Generally when you hear the term "One Hit Wonder", one thinks of music tunes like "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies or "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba. In Hamilton, we seem to have found our own term for "One Hit Wonder" in our Mayor.
Since amalgamation, Hamilton has had four Municipal elections, bringing in four different mayors, all while keeping the proverbial 'knights of the round table' intact (spare a couple of change-ups spattered around the room).
The explanations for the change-ups appear plausible:
Bob Wade defeated Hamilton's longest-serving Mayor, Bob Morrow, to become the Mayor of the newly amalgamated supercity.
As the explanation goes, if the Province was going to force the five smaller towns into the larger city, than there had better be a leader from one of suburban communities to quell the anger that resonated from the former towns.
Meanwhile, Provincial leaders were hoping that Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" would make a revival in the Steel City.
Prior to the 2003 election, Mayor Wade made no secret of stating that he would not seek re-election, putting another suburbanite in the Big Chair with Larry Di Ianni.
Di Ianni won comfortably over lower-city challenger David Christopherson. While it appeared that Hamilton may have found some legs to move forward, Di Ianni was called out on some of his campaign contributions. Suddenly the citizens were talking about his campaign, and not about moving the City forward.
Perhaps sensing Hamilton's unease, Wayne Wonder hit number 11 on the Billboard rankings with his song "No Letting Go".
In 2006, it was safe to say that Di Ianni underestimated the fallout of his previous campaign mistakes as he was eked out of office by a margin of 452 votes to another suburbanite in Fred Eisenberger.
While many opinionators reasoned that Mayor Fred didn't win, but rather Di Ianni lost, it was clear that Hamilton's progress hit a severe roadblock. Eisenberger operated by consensus, and as such was left standing alone and exposed when his Council members refused to stand at his side.
With the Province adding another year to Municipal terms of Council, the citizens of Hamilton grew uneasy over continued job losses, rising taxes, and an apparent lack of leadership. The latter issue bringing a multitude of split-votes, and sometimes a circus-like atmosphere in the conduct of business matters.
Daniel Powter probably summed up the next four years with his number one hit "Bad Day".
With a host of suburbanites occupying the Mayoral seat, the 2010 election was lining up to be a re-match between Di Ianni and Eisenberger. Neither candidate appeared to have overwhelming support to weigh the scales in either direction, so the anticipation was that this was going to be a two-way dogfight right down to the final count.
Enter Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina, a morning radio host/downtown Councillor who threw his name in the hat with a relaxed and bizarre campaign platform.
With another 12 mayoral wannabes on the ballot, Bratina took a commanding lead early on the poll results, not once relinquishing his lead, finishing over 12,000 votes ahead of Di Ianni. Eisenberger never got close, finishing a distant third.
Not known as a "team" player, Bratina now finds himself in the pole position to lead the "team" forward. There appears to be more questions than sighs of relief, and only time will tell if Mayor-elect Bratina can not only bring consensus around the Council Chambers, but also return for a second term.
One can only hope that Jump 'N the Saddle Band will not be playing their one hit wonder "The Curly Shuffle" at the December 1st inauguration meeting in honour of Mayor-Elect Bratina's clarinet-playing abilities!
Hamilton is in a precarious position, with costs in infrastructure mounting, more jobs being lost than gained, and a decision on where we will be in the next 20-years.
At a time where we need a constant leader at the helm, we've somehow managed to keep weeding out the contenders in hopes of finding the right person for the job. Will Bratina be that guy? That will be up to him to decide.
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