Aidan Johnson won't run for re-election in Ward 1

Aidan Johnson won't run to serve another term as a Ward 1 city councillor. Instead, he's taking a new position at the Niagara Community Legal Clinic.

Johnson's decision means at least four council seats won't have incumbents running in the fall race

Aidan Johnson is the fourth incumbent who won't be running in October. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Aidan Johnson won't run to serve another term as a Ward 1 city councillor. Instead, he's taking a new position at the Niagara Community Legal Clinic.

His decision means there are now four council seats that won't have an incumbent running in the fall election.

Johnson says he's withdrawing his nomination for the Oct. 22 municipal race. Instead, the former Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyer will become executive director at the Niagara not-for-profit.

Johnson, who was elected to serve the west end in 2014, said he has mixed emotions. But the new role will let him serve "social justice in a new and direct way.

"Significantly, the clinic's mandate is to create greater access to justice for low-income marginalized people in the Niagara region," he said on his Facebook page. 

Johnson, right, joined Terry Boyd, a 10-year veteran of the city's waste collection crew, on a Strathcona garbage route in 2015. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

"I am thrilled that social justice will be an even larger part of my day-to-day work, in the new role."

Johnson's announcement comes just a day after Matthew Green from Ward 3 said he won't run, and will seek the Hamilton Centre federal NDP nomination instead.

Robert Pasuta, Ward 14 councillor for rural Flamborough, has said he won't run. Donna Skelly, Ward 7 councillor, is now a Flamborough-Glanbrook PC MPP.

Green and Johnson both represent firsts on city council. Green is Hamilton's first black city councillor, while Johnson is the first openly LGBTQ councillor.

Johnson has taken a particular interest in environmental and LGBTQ rights during his time on council, as well as student housing issues around McMaster University.

Johnson listened to the 2015 LRT announcement with Coun. Lloyd Ferguson and former mayor Bob Bratina. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

In 2016, for example, he moved a motion that the city fly the transgender pride flag for the first time ever. He spoke out against the stance of PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff around a bill that would streamline adoption for same-sex couples.

He encouraged the city to put more support toward Hamilton Pride and to write a letter urging better health care resources for transgender residents.

Johnson became a councillor in 2014. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Johnson also spent a morning working on a garbage truck to better understand city waste collection, and moved a motion to have Indigenous art at future light rail transit (LRT) stops.​

Johnson, like Green, is also a regular transit rider and part of a core group of councillors who support LRT.

One candidate so far — Sophie Geffros — is running in Ward 1.


Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca