Coun. Whitehead not seeking re-election in Hamilton’s Ward 14 as registration deadline passes

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead told his Hamilton constituents in a letter on Aug. 19 he's opting not to seek re-election in 2022.
Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead told his Hamilton constituents in a letter on Aug. 19 he's opting not to seek re-election in 2022. Terry Whitehead

A long-time Hamilton, Ont., councillor, who recently admitted he was battling health issues, will not be seeking re-election this fall.

In a statement following the passing of the registration deadline on Friday, Ward 14’s Terry Whitehead cited family illnesses, the loss of loved ones, his own declining health and the COVID pandemic as his reasoning for not making another election run in October.

“The toll it took has been lasting to say the least, which is why I know it’s time for me to take a step back, and not seek re-election as your councillor this upcoming election,” Whitehead said in a thank you letter to his constituents.

Read more: Integrity commissioner imposes more sanctions against Hamilton councillor

“At this point, for myself and my loved ones there can be no other choice.”

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Whitehead has represented wards 14 and 8 for a combined 19 years.

Recent struggles at his Ward 14  post included a sanction of 45 days without pay, after the city’s integrity commissioner found that he harassed staff and a fellow city politician.

It was the second time this term Whitehead has faced sanctions related to conduct.

In addition to the financial penalty, steps were also taken to monitor Whitehead’s attendance at city hall, after Flamborough Coun. Judi Partridge outlined “real” concern with coming into her office.

During the integrity commissioner’s probe, an allegation that he directed disrespectful, bullying and intimidating conduct towards Partridge during a February meeting was revealed.

He would subsequently confirm in a June council meeting he was battling mental health issues and “will be going on sick leave” and “won’t be coming back to city hall.”

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In November 2021, the integrity commissioner found Whitehead had bullied and harassed other staffers, which led to a penalty of 30 days of forfeited pay.

He defended himself by saying he was being targeted for asking “tough questions” of city staff on behalf of Hamilton residents.

In his statement on Friday, Whitehead alluded to his conduct in recent years, saying the job has “never been politics as usual.”

“I often found myself at odds with the status quo, not making decisions to be popular on council but because I truly believed they would be the right choices for us all,” Whitehead wrote.

Seven people are now candidates vying for Whitehead’s Ward 14 position with two more signing on just before the Friday afternoon deadline.

Registration for Hamilton’s municipal election is closed

With Whitehead’s departure, there will now be six wards that will see new councillors following the Oct. 24 vote.

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Ward 4 incumbent Sam Merulla, Ward 11’s Brenda Johnson, Ward 12’s Lloyd Ferguson and Ward 15’s Judi Partridge are among those also not seeking re-election.

Ward 5 will also see a new face following the departure of Chad Collins to federal politics and Russ Powers, who was appointed to sit for Collins, not registering.

The entry deadline for signing on passed as of 2 p.m. on Friday with all 15 of the city’s wards having at least one challenger in the race for a council seat.

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More than 92 individuals signed on for a voice in council including nine mayoral hopefuls looking to succeed Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

Eighty-three are hoping to represent constituents as councillors.

Of those looking for a councillor’s seat, Ward 5 has the most candidates with 12 vying to represent constituents in East Hamilton.

Both wards 7 and 13 have the fewest candidates, just two, including incumbents Esther Pauls and Arlene VanderBeek, respectively.

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