Comment 2215

By voter (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2006 at 12:38:14

I'm cautiously optimistic that this election is, really, the beginning of change in Hamilton. I changed my vote after reading Raise The Hammer blogs the day of the election. I had planned to vote for one of the "smaller" candidates agreeing with many of his opinions. But it was evident to me while reading the RTH blog that Eisenberger might actually defeat DiIanni, and so I voted for him, though I'm not sure how different his policies are from DiIanni's.

Eisenberger narrowly defeated DiIanni, but DiIanni lost the election by more than 10,000 votes, including those that went other candidates. I think it's important to recognize that. Many of them were protest votes.

I'd like to suggest that the vote against DiIanni was more a vote against incompetence than corruption. DiIanni could have made the campaign contributions scandal go away very easily and early in his administration's tenure simply by distancing himself from management of his campaign. Instead he chose to vilify Joanna Chapman. DiIanni needed to re-unite the city after pushing through the Red Hill Creek Expressway, but failed to do so, at times appearing mean spirited and vindictive when dealing with protesters. DiIanni could have had a major downtown development to crow about in this past election, but instead decided to tear down, rather than re-build, the Lister Block, which is now still the eyesore it was when he was first elected. DiIanni fumbled uncertainly when Counsellor Mitchell tried to use his influence to escape a traffic ticket. Clearly censure by city council was the thing to do, or risk spreading the idea that city police were corrupt.

This list goes on and on, but the point is that misdeeds reflected the lack of any skill at advancing economic development in the current business climate. Instead council fell back on the standard procedure: when X doesn't work, apply a bigger dose. When expressways did not deliver economic prosperity through the last three decades, the problem cure is to "complete the system" and build more. If this had worked, DiIanni might still be mayor, but no new industry has expressed serious interest in appearing at the end of his rainbow. Only Maple Leaf Foods made inquiries, and quickly reconsidered given international economic conditions (the Canadian dollar rose.)

Mostly, DiIanni made the mistake of believing his own press. He had the business money and the only paper in town behind him, so how could he lose.

I believe Eisenberger discovered, part way through the election that this was no longer a single medium town and that the motly collection of disaffected lefties that no-longer valued the opinions of the Spectator editorial board composed a significant and growing communications sector. I believe that he shifted his campaign strategy and ideas to appeal to that sector part way through his campaign. And it worked. Just enough for him to narrowly win. I am pleased with that.

I'm hoping that the guy who was competent enough to see this change in community communications will be sharp enough to support the tenuous growth that these media represent during his tenure at city hall. I despair that large local business institutions may have yet to discover that cities and city-building have changed in recent decades, and that new challenges require new solutions, even new businesses.

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