Q&A: Eisenberger says he's still current enough to be mayor
Future candidate talks McHattie, campaign debt and the stadium issue
A former Hamilton mayor says he’s still current enough to run for the city’s top job in 2014.
Fred Eisenberger spent one term as mayor, but hasn’t been on council since 2010, when Bob Bratina was elected mayor.
Eisenberger went on to spend two years as CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute. But he says he’s kept abreast of municipal politics.
He announced his intention this week to seek election in fall 2014. Nominations open on Jan. 1.
Eisenberger talked to CBC Hamilton about campaign debt, joining Twitter and his former ally-turned-rival, mayoral hopeful Coun. Brian McHattie.
Next week, we'll post our interview with McHattie.
Why do you want to get back into municipal politics? (at 0:10 seconds)
“Obviously I’ve got some experience that I can call on to help serve the city of Hamilton. I’ve served it before and I’ve kind of assessed whether or not I have the fire and enthusiasm and energy to come back and do it again, and I believe I do.”
What problems do you think Hamilton has that you can solve? (0:53)
“We’ve got a revenue problem. We, over the decades, have lost a significant amount of industrial capacity and that’s caused an awful strain on our revenue stream from a commercial-industrial perspective, and put an awful strain on the residential tax base. We need to continue to push for new commercial-industrial tax base and new jobs in that area to sustain our city, and to put balance back into the tax regime.”
A criticism of you might be that you haven’t been in municipal politics for a couple of years. You’ve been out of the game. (4:30)
“You’re never really out of the game. You have political capital. And by virtue of being the mayor and on city council for many years, and chair of the Hamilton Port Authority, I’ve got experience and understanding of our city. You don’t spend four years as mayor and not know and get to know the city more than most people in our community. I have that knowledge.”
Is there anything Bob Bratina has done in the last couple of years that you would have done differently? (5:30)
“My approach to politics has always been that you need to have positive, good working relationships with council, with staff, with other levels of government. That needs to be priority No. 1 because to get things done effectively, you need to have that kind of working relationship. And then as well, a good, positive working relationship with the media. Not a cozy one, but certainly a respectful one that allows the mayor and council to get their message out to the general public.”
Brian McHattie has also announced that he plans to run. Are you worried about splitting the vote? (7:10)
“I think the pundits can analyze that. My experience has been that the first order of business for anyone that wants to be a candidate is do you want to do it? Do you have the energy and fire in your belly to see it through? Is there something you want to bring to the table, an issue you want to raise that you think is important for the city? That’s really the only test I put before myself and the answer to all of those is yes.”
One of the more polarizing issues when you were mayor was the stadium debate. How do you think that might impact your campaign? (9:05)
“We’ll see. I think in hindsight, most people would probably agree that I was right about the stadium location. It’s an issue that’s done and gone at this point. The stadium is being built and so be it. The principles that I worked from were what’s in the best interest of the city.”
How much money do you hope to raise and where will you get it? (10:10)
“I have my supporters. We will start thinking about those issues shortly and start mapping out and planning how that’s going to work. I’m not too terribly concerned about that.”
Do you think you’ll be tweeting? (13:50)
I’m sure I’ll be tweeting and I’ll be reinvigorating my 5,000 Facebook friends. Social media will certainly be very high on getting the message out.