LRT opponents insisted this election was a referendum on the project. Now it's time to put the never-ending debate to bed and get the shovels into the ground.
By Ryan McGreal
Published October 23, 2018
Incumbent Mayor Fred Eisenberger was re-elected yesterday in a decisive 54.03 percent vote after a strong challenge by well-funded single-issue challenger Vito Sgro, who came in second with 38.06 percent.
#yesLRT lawn sign
Eisenberger ran a low-key campaign that touted the City's accomplishments over the past four years - including a plan to invest $50 million over ten years in affordable housing and securing full capital funding for light rail transit (LRT) - and presented himself as the steady hand who will keep moving the city in the right direction.
His election priorities include growing and diversifying the economy, increasing access to housing, intensifying under-used land within the urban boundary, partnering with community organizations and higher levels of government in a "Team Hamilton" approach to realize opportunities, and continuing to implement the Ten Year Transit Strategy while building LRT on the B-Line.
In 2014, Eisenberger ran on a split-the-difference position with respect to LRT, noting that he personally supported it but that the City should establish a Citizens Jury to review the case for and against LRT and make a recommendation to Council. As it happened, the Province confirmed full funding before that Citizens Jury convened, but the Jury's final report neverthelesss concluded that LRT has "great potential for city-building" and that a "well planned" implementation will achieve "development, jobs and affordable housing, making the City an even more attractive place to live, work, raise a family, grow old, visit and invest in."
This time around, Eisenberger wore his LRT support on his sleeve. Challenging the "Fred's Train" refrain of LRT opponents, Eisenberger insists this project is "everyone's light rail" and cites the broad cross-section of LRT support from across the spectrum of business, labour, environmental, social policy, community and political sectors.
Eisenberger's positions on the RTH municipal policy questions are generally progressive. He supports LRT, of course, but also supports concentrating new growth within the already-built area with intensification and inclusionary zoning, expanding transit across the city and phasing out area rating (excepting rural residents, who do not pay a transit levy), implementing a Vision Zero approach to road safety and expanding our cycling network.
Eisenberger's main challenger in this election was Vito Sgro, who ran on a single-issue anti-LRT "Stop the Train" campaign. Sgro is by all accounts an experienced, well-connected political insider. He has impressive fundraising and campaigning skills, which he put to highly effective use to cultivate the illusion that he was a serious candidate.
But it was only an illusion. Take away the truckloads of money he poured into constant automated telephone push-polls, radio commercials, Facebook and YouTube ads, lawn signs, and even an airplane banner, and Sgro was just another fringe candidate with no platform and no real vision for the city.
His entire campaign was built on a cheap, appealing slogan, which fell apart under even rudimentary scrutiny. When the Hamilton Spectator published my critique of his platform, Sgro actually reacted by trying to get the op-ed taken down - never a good sign.
His campaign was an embarrassment of exactly the same tired, discredited "LRT facts" we have come to expect from the small, reactionary anti-LRT group. This included the bizarre assertion that the five anti-LRT councillors who endorsed him in the final days of the campaign were "almost half" of the 15-member Council.
While Eisenberger and other LRT supporters argued that there are lots of important civic issues and this election should be about more than just LRT, the anti-LRT activists insisted on making the election yet another referendum on LRT.
So with Eisenberger's decisive victory - he received a clear majority of votes, not just the largest plurality - it should be interesting to see whether the LRT opponents will finally concede that they do not, in fact, speak for some silent majority.
Now it's time to put this never-ending debate to bed and get the shovels into the ground. Our elected leaders have a duty to understand and explain the broad city-wide benefits of this investment for everyone, so that divisive obstructionists can no longer use it to keep trying to drive a wedge into the city.
For various reasons, there will be several new faces around the Council table. Ward 1 Councillor Aidan Johnson and Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green decided not to seek re-election. Ward 7 was vacated when Donna Skelly jumped ship to run for provincial office in Flamborough-Glanbook. At the same time, a ward boundary revision imposed by the Ontario Municipal Board late last year eliminated the rual Ward 14 while adding a ward across the upper city.
In addition to those changes, one incumbent was unseated by an experienced former politician who made a successful return to Council in Ward 9.
In Ward 1, an open seat, Maureen Wilson won with 41.51 percent of the vote, with Jason Allen coming in second at 17 percent and Carol Lazich coming in third at 12.01 percent.
In Ward 2, incumbent Jason Farr was re-elected with 46.86 percent of the vote, with Cameron Kroetsch coming in second at 29.99 percent and Diane Chiarelli coming in third at 6.37 percent.
In Ward 3, an open seat, Nrinder Nann won with 33.96 percent of the vote, with Laura Farr coming in second at 19.08 percent and Ned Kuruc coming in third at 13.83 percent.
In Ward 4, incumbent Sam Merulla won with 78.35 percent of the vote, with challenger Rod Douglas receiving 21.65 percent.
In Ward 5, incumbent Chad Collins won with 80.28 percent of the vote, with Juanita Maldonado coming in second at 14.16 percent and Stewart Klazinga coming in third at 5.56 percent.
In Ward 6, incumbent Tom Jackson won with 82.26 percent of the vote, with Timothy Taylor coming in second at 9.41 percent and Brad Young coming in third at 8.34 percent.
In Ward 7, an open seat, Esther Pauls won with 25 percent of the vote, with Geraldine McMullen coming in second at 15.57 percent and Dan MacIntyre coming in third at 14.38 percent.
In Ward 8, an open seat due to ward boundary redistribution, John-Paul Danko won with 41.67 percent of the vote, with former MP Eve Adams coming in second at 23.39 percent and CH weather reporter Steve Ruddick coming in third at 21.26 percent.
In Ward 9 (Upper Stoney Creek), challenger Brad Clark won with 38.73 percent of of the vote, defeating incumbent Doug Conley with 29.91 percent and third-place finisher Peter Lanza with 23.32 percent.
In Ward 10 (Stoney Creek), incumbent Maria Pearson held her seat with 36.34 percent of the vote, with Louie Milojevic coming in second at 27.25 percent and Jeff Beattie coming in third at 24.53 percent.
In Ward 11 (Glanbrook), incumbent Brenda Johnson won with 87.97 percent of the vote - the highest margin of victory in the election - with Waleed Shewayhat coming in second at 12.03 percent.
In Ward 12 (Ancaster), incumbent Lloyd Ferguson won with 58.3 percent of the vote, with Miranda Reis coming in second at 19.12 percent and Mike Bell coming in third at 14.15 percent.
In Ward 13 (Dundas), incumbent Arlene VanderBeek held her seat with 34.49 percenet of the vote, with Rich Gelder coming in second at 26.93 percent and John Mykytyshyn coming in third at 18.24 percent.
In Ward 14 (new west Mountain), quasi-incumbent Terry Whitehead won with 57.79 percent of the vote, with Bryan Wilson coming second at 27.34 percent and Roslyn French-Sanges coming in third at 9 percent.
In Ward 15 (Waterdown), incumbent Judi Partridge won with 51.61 percent, with challenger Susan McKechnie coming close at 48.39 percent.
|Xian Yi Yan, Nathalie||1,286||0.94%|
|Hc Graydon, Edward||409||0.30%|
|Paul Denault, Steven||100||1.30%|
|Singh Multani, Lakhwinder||197||3%|
You must be logged in to comment.