Eisenberger set to join McHattie in mayoral race
Former mayor readies for a comeback bid
Former mayor Fred Eisenberger intends to enter the race for mayor in 2014.
Eisenberger told the Hamiltonian blog in an email exchange Tuesday that "Barring anything unforeseen, I will be a candidate for mayor in 2014."
Eisenberger's statement follows close on the heels of the one from Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie Monday night that he will be running for mayor.
Eisenberger was mayor from 2006 to 2010. He defeated Larry Di Ianni and was succeeded by current Mayor Bob Bratina.He was the only possible or rumoured candidate to declare his intentions in the wake of McHattie's announcement.
At city hall today, neither mayor Bob Bratina nor Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson, whose name is often mentioned as a likely challenger, were ready to state their intentions.
Bratina says he has “no reason not to” run in next year’s municipal election, but he’s not making any formal announcements until the new year.
Bratina, who has been the city’s mayor since 2010, says he’ll formally declare his intentions when nominations open on Jan. 1.
But he likes the job, and says anyone would be happy to have it next term, including him.
Everything you can measure is great. I'm proud of us.- Mayor Bob Bratina
“I have no reason not to” run, he said, “but I’m not doing any campaign announcements until the nominations open.”
Bratina wouldn’t talk about what he’d like to achieve if elected for another term. “That’s campaign talk.”
But Bratina said he's happy about the state of Hamilton.
"The city's never been better," he said. "Everything you can measure is great. I'm proud of us."
Bratina was elected to council in 2004 after Andrea Horwath vacated her Ward 2 seat to become a member of provincial parliament.
Ferguson has been a rumoured contender for the mayor's chair.
At city hall Tuesday, Ferguson wouldn't comment on his plans. But he did say he's being "encouraged" to run.He's had a high-profile year, speaking out for fiscal responsibility and for transparency in the Hamilton Police Services board, of which he is a new member.
"I hear it everywhere," he said. "But I'm sure other people do too."
But as for his plans to run for mayor or his ward, "I'm keeping my powder dry at this time."
With the election a year away, the mayoral announcements are early, said Peter Graefe, an associate professor of political science at McMaster University.
It tends to become silly season.- Coun. Brad Clark
“It makes it a very long campaign for the candidate,” he said. It could also influence the dynamics around the council table, since other councillors may be secretly thinking of running too.
"Certainly the relationships there become complicated."
With an early declaration, there’s also "a danger that the public becomes tired of you before the campaign even starts,” he said.
A deciding factor in the mayoral race, Graefe said, is how much support there is for Bratina. He’s been subject to a pair of investigations by the integrity commissioner in the last two years, and council censured him last year.
“It depends on if these things are registering with people, if they’re seen as shenanigans at city hall or a real question of competency,” he said.
Coun. Brad Clark will run in his ward but not for mayor. But now that people have begun announcing their intentions, debate will change around the council table, he said.
“It tends to become silly season,” he said.
Typically, he said, councillors made decisions on the merit of proposals or the interests of their wards. When the unofficial campaign starts, “it starts to become an opportunity to make others look bad.”
“it’s just the nature of politics,” he said. “People start to talk about the negative consequences of past decisions and the I-told-you-so’s become more prevalent.”