Bob Bratina announces plans to run for Hamilton mayor, says he offers 'veteran knowledge'

Bratina says he suspects there will be new faces around the council table come October and is making the pitch it would help to have a familiar one, too — his.

Keanin Loomis also running, while it's still 'an open question' for Mayor Eisenberger

Bob Bratina has announced he intends to run for Mayor of Hamilton. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Bob Bratina says he suspects there will be new faces around the council table come October and is making the pitch it would help to have a familiar one too — his.

The veteran politician said he plans to run for mayor when nominations open in May, promising a positive, forward-looking campaign.

"There needs to be a little bit of stability in terms of veteran knowledge of how a city council works," he told CBC Hamilton Tuesday morning, the day after announcing his intentions to run during an interview on CHML.

"I think it's hard to disagree with the fact that you can't just completely throw everybody out and start all over again. There are ramifications to that."

Bratina, a former broadcaster, previously served as Hamilton's mayor from 2010 to 2014.

He was elected as MP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek for the Liberals in 2015 and again in 2019, but broke with the party over its support of Hamilton's light-rail transit (LRT) project.

Bratina has been a vocal critic of LRT since his time on council. In May last year, he announced he wouldn't run federally again, and teased then about the possibility of throwing his hat back in the ring for mayor.

Loomis calls himself an 'unpolitician'

On Tuesday Bratina said he thinks people are "tired" of hearing about LRT, noting it's "on a course of its own" and in the hands of councillors.

"If I were to become mayor, with the council, I would have one of 16 votes."

Bratina joins Keanin Loomis, who stepped down from his role as the CEO of Hamilton's Chamber of Commerce in January to run for the top job on city council.

Loomis said he'll work to get LRT built and has described himself as an "unpolitician," having never run for office before.

"Change isn't just what I'm looking for, it's what everybody I talk to seems to be looking for," Loomis previously told CBC. "I know I have a lot more to give this community and I'm ready to do that."

Keanin Loomis left his role as the CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce to join the mayoral race. (Submitted by Keanin Loomis)

Bratina said he views himself as a bit of an "unpolitician" too, saying he's applied term limits of his own throughout his times in office. He said he has no interest in being a career politician, before acknowledging that may sound funny coming from someone who's held elected office since 2004.

The mayoral hopeful also said he believes there's a learning curve to municipal politics and suggested Loomis should have tried for a council seat before setting his sights on mayor.

Fred Eisenberger, Hamilton's current mayor, said Tuesday that he hasn't made a final decision on whether to run again, but "I would not bet against it."

He added the window for nominations runs from May to August and he will make a decision during that time.

Coun. Judi Partridge not running for re-election

Monday brought other news in municipal politics, with longtime Ward 15 councillor Judi Partridge announcing she won't be running for re-election.

Partridge was first elected to council in 2010 and has held onto the role since. A media release announcing she's leaving described her as a "no-nonsense advocate" for residents of Waterdown and Flamborough.

Judi Partridge is a Hamilton Ward 15 (north Flamborough) councillor. She announced Monday that she won't be running for re-election. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

"There are very few communities like ours, and I feel very blessed to live here and to serve you as councillor," she was quoted as saying.

Three other council seats may be up for grabs in the fall. Sam Merulla (Ward 4) has announced he will retire later this year, Brenda Johnson (Ward 11) also posted on her website in January she is ready for a change, and Ward 5 councillor Russ Powers has said he won't run. Powers was selected as councillor in November after Chad Collins was elected as MP in September. 

Bratina said he's coming back to municipal politics in hopes of helping Hamiltonians.

"I'm seeing concerns for affordability, for families continuing to live and prosper and young people to buy houses," he said.

Bratina says 'past is for memoirs'

His term as mayor included arguments with councillors, a censure vote and an integrity commissioner investigation

On Tuesday he declined to speak about it in depth, saying "the past is for memoirs" and adding that he believes that council at that time functioned well.

He did say most of the "antagonists of the past" have moved on, describing the municipal officials of those days as "an old boys group who were around since roughly the beginning of the century."

Now, Bratina said, he's focused on the future.

He's 77, but said he views any suggestion that could preclude him from running as "ageism," noting with a laugh that he's healthy and even considered running Around the Bay this year.

"The main thing I have … is the passion for it," he said. "If the electorate decides it's time for me to go, that's fine. It's up to them. But it's not up to pundits to say what I should or shouldn't do."

Municipal elections will be held on Oct. 24. All potential candidates have until Aug. 19 to file nomination papers. 

with files from Bobby Hristova


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