Following election day on October 24, Hamilton welcomes Andrea Horwath as its new mayor and incumbent Maureen Wilson is re-elected as Ward 1 city councillor

Over one hundred thousand Hamilton residents cast their votes in Hamilton’s municipal election, which concluded on Oct. 24. Following election day, former Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath was announced as Hamilton’s new mayor, capturing 41.68 per cent of the vote.  

Horwath’s leadership marks a milestone for Hamilton — she will be the city’s first female mayor.  

Horwath’s leadership marks a milestone for Hamilton — she will be the city’s first female mayor.

The race was close between Horwath and Keanin Loomis, former CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. Horwath emerged just under two thousand votes ahead of Loomis, who captured 40.51 per cent of the vote.  

Bob Bratina, a former mayor of Hamilton, came third in the mayoral race with 12.27 per cent of the vote. 

“Hamilton is my pride and my inspiration. I could not have asked for a better hometown. And there are so many people who poured their hearts into making our city even greater. I am filled with gratitude,” tweeted Horwath on Oct. 24, following her election. 

“Hamilton is my pride and my inspiration. I could not have asked for a better hometown. And there are so many people who poured their hearts into making our city even greater. I am filled with gratitude.”

Andrea horwath, mayor of hamilton

Horwath’s platform throughout her campaign addressed many key issues affecting Hamilton residents, such as transportation, housing and trust between city hall and the public.  

Along with electing a new mayor, Hamilton residents also voted for their city councillors. In Ward 1, over eight thousand residents cast their ballots and incumbent Maureen Wilson won the seat with 74.96 per cent of the vote.  

In Ward 1, over eight thousand residents cast their ballots and incumbent Maureen Wilson won the seat with 74.96 per cent of the vote.

Ian MacPherson received 15.72 per cent of the votes and John Vail received 9.32 per cent of the votes.  

Wilson addressed Ward 1 residents in a long Twitter thread on October 25. 

In this thread, she expressed her appreciation for residents of Ward 1 and her desire to address their concerns. She also thanked her opponent, Ian MacPherson, for his community contributions and for his campaign.  

A precise breakdown of the election results can be found on the City of Hamilton website.  

A student-focused summary of the city’s mayoral and Ward 1 city counsellor candidates and thier platforms

As the municipal election races come to a close, students should remember that not only are they eligible to vote, but also that their voices matter in this election. Student are able to cast votes for city the mayor of Hamilton, city councillors and school board trustees.

For more in-depth discussions on each of the mayoral candidates, you can check out the candidate profiles posted on the Silhouette website.

Mayoral candidates  

In June 2022, Hamilton’s current mayor, Fred Eisenberger, announced he would not be running for reelection. In the weeks leading up to the election, the Silhouette sat down with several of these candidates to discuss their platforms, their reasons for running, and their perspectives on why the student vote matters.

Bob Bratina has had a long political career, as Ward 2 city councillor from 2004 to 2010, mayor of Hamilton from 2010 to 2014 and Liberal member of parliament from 2015 to 2021. He is concerned about affordable housing, financial transparency regarding the LRT project and increased security.  

Ejaz Butt is a community activist, an Uber driver, and the founder of the Ontario Taxi Workers Union. Butt explained to the Silhouette that his 20-point campaign agenda was compiled based on feedback from Hamilton residents. This agenda particularly highlights the housing crisis and the affordability of living in Hamilton.  

Jim Davis detailed his platform on Facebook page Vote Jim Davis 4 Mayor of Hamilton, the same platform that he ran on in his first mayoral campaign in 2018. Davis aims to prioritize city-run programs, such as daycare and recreation and housing initiatives.   

Andrea Horwath served as Hamilton’s Ward 2 city councillor from 1997 to 2004 and as the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party from 2009 to 2022. Horwath plans on prioritizing public transportation, environmental protection and rebuilding trust between city hall and the public.  

Solomon Ikhuiwu is a trained paralegal, evangelical preacher and author who wants to prioritize unifying the city and addressing the housing crisis. Ikhuiwu has worked with unhoused communities in Hamilton throughout his career and is critical of the current state of the shelter system. 

Hermiz Ishaya decided to run for mayor to set an example for young people and highlight the importance of youth involvement in politics. Ishaya told the Silhouette that he is particularly concerned about the housing crisis, as well as the city’s infrastructure and roads. 

Keanin Loomis, former president and CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, highlighted building a trustworthy and responsive City Hall, fostering economic growth and making Hamilton a safer and cleaner city as his main goals.  

Michael Pattison, who previously ran for mayor in 2014 and 2018, is running in this election on a platform that prioritizes the housing crisis, affordable mental health initiatives, transparency in city spending and food insecurity.  

City councillor candidates

Along with voting for Hamilton’s mayor, Hamilton residents will also be voting for city councillors. The majority of McMaster students reside in Ward 1, which has three candidates competing for the seat.  

Ian MacPherson founded the Canadian Association of Pompe, an organization that lobbies the government to fund new treatments for Pompe. MacPherson’s priorities include environmental sustainability, road safety and addressing the housing crisis.  

John Vail is a small business owner who has previously run for both city councillor and for the provincial Hamilton City Centre seat. His priorities include building transparency in city council,  avoiding over-intensification and collaborating with the community.  

Maureen Wilson was elected as Ward 1 city councillor in 2018 and is running again in this election. Her platform highlights key areas of priority, such as ensuring safer streets, addressing the housing crisis and investing in public spaces.  

McMaster students are eligible to vote on election day, October 24, provided they have government-issued identification and proof of residency in Hamilton. More information on where to vote on election day can be found here

The former leader of Ontario’s NDP, Horwath is running for mayor of Hamilton with an action plan to address long-standing issues in the city

The Silhouette sat down with mayoral candidate Andrea Horwath to discuss her current campaign and the most pressing issues for the 2022 Hamilton municipal election.

Horwath has a long political resume that starts with her position as Hamilton’s Ward 2 city councillor from 1997 to 2004. Then, in 2009 she was elected as leader of Ontario’s New Democratic Party, a position she held until 2022 when she stepped down and declared her intention to run for mayor of Hamilton.  

“I had been the leader [of the Ontario NDP] for 13 years and I felt like it was time to pass the torch. I had done a lot of hard work. I was very proud of the work that I had done but there comes a time that you know that your leadership needs to be passed onto somebody else,” said Horwath. 

Horwath’s platform addresses the issues Hamilton faces at length with her action plan that looks at making Hamilton a great place to live, work and raise a family.  Horwath’s action plan includes increasing the affordability of Hamilton by working on the “missing middle” housing needed in Hamilton and creating a diverse economy by fostering film and agricultural sectors while collaborating with McMaster University and Mohawk College. 

“We have to make sure people coming out of university can not only afford to live in our city, but there are opportunities for them. And that’s one of the other pieces that I speak to in my action plan. Let’s make sure that we are creating a vibrant economy that prioritizes people’s ability to make Hamilton their home,” said Horwath. 

We have to make sure people coming out of university can not only afford to live in our city, but there are opportunities for them. And that’s one of the other pieces that I speak to in my action plan. Let’s make sure that we are creating a vibrant economy that prioritizes people’s ability to make Hamilton their home.

Andrea Horwath, Hamilton Mayoral Candidate

Horwath’s platform also pushes for better transportation by addressing the $2.3 billion infrastructure backlog of roads and sewers, as well as increasing HSR services in frequency and neighbourhoods public transit reaches. She spoke about denser development in Hamilton’s existing wards in order to halt urban sprawl and the expansion of Hamilton’s urban boundary. A large expansion of Hamilton’s urban boundary was voted against in a city council vote last November. 

“We have some parts of our city that have no service whatsoever. People have no choice but to jump into a car and we need to turn that around,” said Horwath. 

In addition to pushing for public transportation, Horwath’s platform focuses on how green livable neighbourhoods will be promoted using multiple strategies. Her action plan pledges to follow Hamilton’s Urban Forest Strategy for better urban forests and continue Hamilton’s Urban Indigenous Strategy under Indigenous leadership. Horwath also emphasized the importance of being transparent in progress made in the Climate Change Action Plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  

Following the pollution of Chedoke Creek, Horwath says that the city needs to rebuild trust with the public. 

“I think that one of the really disappointing, not even disappointing, outrageous things that we've all been dealing with was the sewage leak into Cootes Paradise and that's unacceptable. Not only the fact that it happened, that it was going on for so many years, but the lack of transparency around how people found out about it. It's really about trust,” said Horwath. 

Horwath spoke optimistically about the future of Hamilton and how she hoped to bring her experience to the position of mayor of Hamilton.

“I think Hamilton’s poised for a really great future. There’s so many amazing things happening. I just want to be able to use the experience, the knowledge, the networks, the capacity that I’ve built to help our city realize its potential,” said Horwath. 

I think Hamilton’s poised for a really great future. There’s so many amazing things happening. I just want to be able to use the experience, the knowledge, the networks, the capacity that I’ve built to help our city realize its potential.

Andrea Horwath, Hamilton Mayoral Candidate

Horwath reminisced on her time at McMaster as a labour studies student and explained why she believes McMaster students should vote in Hamilton’s municipal election. 

“What I would hope is that by engaging in what's happening at the municipal level, people who are attending McMaster University can learn more about what a great city this is,” said Horwath.  

Andrea Horwath is running for mayor in the Oct. 2022 municipal election. His candidate profile has be posted as part of a series the Silhouette is running to build student awareness about the municipal election. Candidate profiles will continue to be posted in alphabetical order over the next few weeks. Election Day is Oct. 24 and more details on how to vote can be found here.

Graphic by Elisabetta Paiano / Production Editor

On Dec. 16, 2019, Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney informed Fred Eisenberger, the mayor of Hamilton, that the provincial government had decided to cancel plans for Hamilton’s light-rail transit system, which was set to begin construction in 2020. After Mulroney called for a press conference to deliver the cancellation news in Hamilton, she cancelled it due to safety concerns linked to the large crowd that had gathered for her announcement. Instead, Mulroney issued a statement and cited impractical costs as the reason for the LRT’s cancellation. 

“. . . The [LRT] project will actually cost five times more than the previous [provincial] government led us all to believe,” said Mulroney in her statement.

The proposed corridor was set to extend from McMaster to Eastgate Square, amounting to a new 14 km system.

 

THE MEETING

Prior to this termination, Eisenberger says that the provincial government had given no indication that the project would be cancelled or that a press conference was to be called [on Dec. 16, 2019]. He also claims that on April 10, 2019, Premier Doug Ford had sent Jeff Yurek, the previous Minister of Transportation, to Hamilton to confirm that the provincial government would support the LRT’s construction. 

Eisenberger considers Ford’s failure to follow through a betrayal.

You said Nov. 28, 2018: ‘When people democratically elect someone, if he wants an LRT, he’s gonna get an LRT,’ adding ‘that’s democracy,’” said Eisenberger in an open letter to the office of the Premier.

 

THE COST

In May 2015, Premier Wynne promised the city of Hamilton $1 billion to fund capital costs of the LRT project. In September 2019, a meeting between the Ministry of Transportation and Hamilton revealed that the preliminary project budget for the LRT, including both capital and non-capital costs, ranged from $4.6 billion to $6.5 billion. The provincial government sent a new estimate to Eisenberger days before the Dec. 16 press conference; this new estimate puts project costs at $5.5 billion

Eisenberger and his team had questions regarding the new Dec. 12 estimate, which they never had a chance to raise. 

According to Mulroney’s Dec. 16 statement, the $5.5 billion estimate came from a report by an “expert third party”

Kris Jacobson, director of the LRT project office, broke down the difference between capital and non-capital costs. Hamilton has a memorandum of agreement with the provincial agency Metrolinx, where the province is responsible for upfront capital costs. This includes lifecycle costs for the LRT system, such as from construction, purchasing trains and replacing tracks. On the other hand, Hamilton would have been responsible for non-capital costs, such as day-to-day operations and general maintenance of the corridor and stations.

Jacobson noted that without any context, the provincial government’s $5.5 billion estimate is impossible to interpret and verify.

“There’s a lot of options and methodology that are used to develop these numbers that we don’t know . . . so to us, they’re just numbers,” said Jacobson.

 

THE REACTION

Andrea Horwath, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Hamilton-Centre and leader of the official opposition, held a press conference at Redchurch Café + Gallery, a business along the proposed LRT route. She called on Premier Ford to come forward with the third-party’s detailed cost estimate. 

“The bottom line is Mr. Ford’s making up the numbers to justify this cut. So, show us the numbers, show us the report and give us an apples to apples comparison with the other projects that are ongoing right now in our province,” said Horwath.

The Hamilton LRT was estimated to cost $5.5 billion for the 14 kilometre corridor. Similar projects in other jurisdictions include the Hurontario LRT in Mississauga, which is estimated to cost $1.6 billion for an 18 kilometer corridor; the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, which is estimated to cost $12 billion for a 19 kilometre corridor, 10 kilometres of which are underground; and the ION LRT expansion in Cambridge, which is estimated to cost $1.4 billion with an 18 kilometre corridor. All of these projects have gone over their original cost estimates. Yet they continue to receive provincial funding.

Horwath highlighted that Metrolinx has spent taxpayer money buying land and creating documents necessary for the procurement process. Metrolinx is now in possession of the stretch of land that would have been the LRT.  

Horwath also publicly criticized Donna Skelly, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Flamborough-Glanbrook and the only Progressive Conservative elected in Hamilton.

“There’s no doubt [Skelly] didn’t support [the LRT] as a city councillor, but as I said that’s not the will of the people of [Hamilton]. They voted for a pro-LRT mayor and Ms. Skelly . . . Mr. Ford should respect the right of our municipality to plan its own future and to determine what transportation infrastructure is the best for Hamilton,” said Horwath.

On. Dec. 18, Horwath sent a letter to the Auditor General of Ontario, Bonnie Lysyk requesting the office investigates the rationale behind the LRT cost estimates provided to the public under the Liberal and Provincial Conservative governments.

“The public deserves to receive honest and reasonable cost estimates when assessing the value of public transit projects that cost billions of dollars,” wrote Horwath.

In her reply, Lysyk stated that, as part of an ongoing audit, her office is currently examining Metrolinx. She also declared that she would examine cost estimates for projects such as the LRT. 

According to Skelly, the Auditor General’s report will likely be released by the end of 2020.

 

THE REASONING

For Skelly and her government, the cost was too prohibitive, not only for the province but also for municipal taxpayers. Evidence for this claim is limited to Mulroney’s Dec. 16 statement, in which she claims that, over the 30 year lifespan of the LRT project, taxpayers would have paid $1 billion.

According to Skelly, the provincial government believes the previous Wynne Liberal government was aware that the LRT could not be built for the $1 billion promise, but had informed neither the mayor nor city council. 

“I see it as a smart and responsible decision because my priority, and the priority of our government, is to ensure that we respect taxpayers and their hard earned dollars, and money was being spent on a project that should never ever have seen the light of day,” said Skelly in response to the Mayor calling the LRT cancellation a “personal betrayal.”

 

THE OUTLOOK

The provincial government’s initial $1 billion commitment to the LRT project will be diverted towards Hamilton’s transportation infrastructure.

Skelly believes the commitment provides an incredible opportunity towards the city, specifically when examining the Hamilton Street Railway bus system.

 

While $1 billion is not enough to finish the LRT, it will be up to the Hamilton Transportation Task Force to determine where this funding should be allocated. 

This task force will be comprised of five non-politically affiliated community members, four of which will be decided by the province and one by the city of Hamilton. Their primary role will be to create a list of transportation projects for the Ministry to consider as viable alternatives to the LRT, due by the end of February 2020

It has been suggested that the Laborers International Union of North America, a pro-LRT labour union, will be involved in some capacity.

Mayor Eisenberger remains committed to the LRT and continues to urge the provincial government to reconsider their decision. 

“I’m hopeful but not confident that [the project will be reinstated], but we’ll do everything we can to try to set that kind of change,” said Eisenberger.

Jacobson and his team leading the LRT project also do not see this as the end. 

“Who knows what the future holds for LRT in Hamilton . . . here is a commitment to funding transportation and transit improvements in Hamilton, which is a positive. So there is something that’s going to come from this. What is it? That still needs to be determined,” said Jacobson.

The state of transportation in Hamilton will remain in the air until the task force reports to the Minister of Transportation. 

The Silhouette reached out to Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney for an interview about the Hamilton LRT project being cancelled, but the Minister declined our request.

 

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