Restoring accountability at Hamilton city hall among Bob Bratina’s mayoral campaign pledges

Bob Bratina has officially launched his mayoral campaign ahead of the 2022 municipal election. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Hamilton mayoral candidate Bob Bratina is ramping up his campaign ahead of the fall municipal election and is letting voters know where he stands on some key issues.

The former mayor and Liberal MP addressed supporters at a fundraising event at Michelangelo’s Banquet Centre on the east mountain on Thursday night, a day before nominations for the municipal election race officially close.

In his speech, Bratina outlined a number of issues he wants to see addressed, including accountability at city hall, the housing affordability crisis, aging infrastructure and economic development.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees, and we should be able to fix what we need fixing without having to increase the burden on our residential taxpayers,” said Bratina.

“So I will be running for the mayor of the City of Hamilton because someone at the helm needs to deliver results, and I’ve done that in the past and I’m going to do it again.”

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A vocal critic of Hamilton’s LRT project for years, Bratina said one of the proposed benefits of a light-rail transit line is affordable housing and said if he were mayor, 30 per cent of new and refurbished housing along the corridor would be affordable by having “good discussions” with higher levels of government.

He also touched on the scandals linked to city hall, including the massive spillage of sewage and untreated wastewater into Chedoke Creek and the buried 2013 report about friction levels on the Red Hill Valley Parkway — the latter of which occurred during his former tenure as mayor.

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When asked how he would prevent that from happening again during a second term, Bratina said testimony from the inquiry into the buried Red Hill report shows a “disconnect within the silos of the management teams and the city manager’s office”.

“So you have to learn when you go through the experience of being a mayor, that the relationship between the mayor, council and city manager is very critical. And sometimes it might not have been as precise as it should have been, but we’ll see that it’s done properly this time.”

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Part of improving accountability and transparency at city hall includes a pledge to work alongside the city manager’s office and review management and operations “to ensure the city is functioning in the best interest of its residents” within the first 100 days of his term.

Bratina’s campaign website also lists a promise to seek a separate oversight office under provincial jurisdiction that would keep city council in check, as well as an “open door policy” for all municipal employees that would give them a direct line to the mayor’s office.

The 78-year-old Bratina — also a former radio broadcaster — previously served as Hamilton’s mayor from 2010 to 2014 and was the Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek from 2015 to 2021.

He’s one of seven candidates who have registered to run for mayor in Hamilton’s municipal election.

Keanin Loomis, former head of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, has been releasing parts of his campaign platform periodically since registering to run in the mayoral race on May 2.

In a statement to media following Bratina’s platform release, Loomis was critical of his opponent’s decision to step down as a Liberal MP following his government’s financial support for the LRT project.

“Does he still stand by this position? Will he oppose and obstruct the LRT and the provincial and federal government’s support for it?,” wrote Loomis.

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“Hamiltonians know we have wasted enough time already. I will do what I have done for the last 12 years — consistently and effectively advocate for Hamilton to attract and retain investment while working collaboratively with partners in both levels of government and business to help us grow and flourish.”

Bratina was asked by reporters whether he would oppose the LRT now that it’s back on the rails and said he’s just one vote on council and that, “it will live or die on its own merits“.

“My intention is that whatever projects council agrees on, including LRT, which still has some decisions attached to it, we will do it in the right way and not end up with the fiasco that Ottawa has endured over the past few years.”

Former Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced her intention to run for mayor of Hamilton in late June but has yet to release a campaign platform.

The other candidates in the mayoral race include the former head of the city’s taxi drivers’ union Ejaz Butt, Solomon Ikhuiwu, Paul Fromm, and Hermiz Ishaya.

Click to play video: 'Andrea Horwath to step down as MPP, run for Mayor of Hamilton'
Andrea Horwath to step down as MPP, run for Mayor of Hamilton

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