Andrea Horwath is running for mayor of Hamilton to help the city ‘realize its potential’

Andrea Horwath says she is running for mayor of Hamilton to help the city “realize its potential”.

The former leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) is expected to officially announce Tuesday morning that she will be stepping down as MPP for Hamilton Center to run for mayor.

“The work I have done all my life has been for Hamiltonians and it would be a really exciting time to be part of realizing the great opportunities that lie ahead of us,” she told CBC Hamilton in an interview on Monday. , ahead of the public announcement.

Horwath joins three others in the race for office: former mayor Bob Bratina, political newcomer Keanin Loomis and labor lawyer Ejaz Butt. Current mayor Fred Eisenberger announced last month that he would not run again.

“Like most Hamiltonians, I’m a fighter. I don’t give up until the job is done and I’m also willing to put in the hard work,” Horwath said.

Horwath, born and raised in the city, served as a Ward 2 Councilor from 1997 to 2004 before becoming MPP for Hamilton East for the NDP. In 2007, she became MPP for Hamilton Center and eventually leader of the Ontario NDP.

During her time as leader, she helped the NDP go from non-official party status to official opposition status twice. The party won 40 seats in 2018, but recent elections in June saw that number drop to 31.

She announced her resignation as party leader on the evening of June 2, once the results were known. In the weeks that followed, speculation about his candidacy for mayor grew.

“At this point, the best opportunity for me to work on behalf of the people of Hamilton Center and the entire city is as mayor…the work that I can do will be much more impactful,” she said .

Horwath says new political ideas are coming

Horwath didn’t give many details on specific policies or actions she would take as mayor, saying she was in the “vision” stage of her campaign and would hear more from the city. from residents in the next step.

When asked what she sees as the top three issues for people in the city, she replied “that’s part of the conversations I’m going to be having over the next few weeks.”

She did, however, share her thoughts on several issues, from road safety to climate change to bidding for the Commonwealth Games.

Horwath said she doesn’t want to expand the city’s urban limits and wants to make sure the city continues to grow without losing the “unique character” of Hamilton’s communities.

“Development doesn’t pay for itself and we also know that we have a significant infrastructure deficit in our city and the more you develop…you just add more and more to that infrastructure deficit,” he said. she declared.

She also said residential zoning should focus on meeting people’s needs rather than increasing the number of units.

Horwath did not share his views on the city’s approach to encampments, which involved taking down tents across the city, but said there needed to be ‘collaboration’ with different levels from government and community agencies for more support on sometimes related issues such as addictions. and mental health.

Horwath said she sees traffic safety as a key issue in this election and praised some of the city’s recent efforts to improve safety by aligning with a complete streets approach.

“But also, we need to work on driver awareness…in terms of the car and what it can do to injure other road users,” she said. “We need to remind people that driving is a responsibility and not just a luxury.”

Andrea Horwath said she wanted to keep the city’s urban limits, which council voted on in late 2021. (Hugo Levesque/CBC)

Horwath added that greater use of public transit, especially with the development of the light rail line (LRT), will help reduce traffic on the roads. She wouldn’t say whether she thinks area pricing – which sees residents paying taxes only for the level of services they receive in their area – should be eliminated, only saying it should be a community discussion.

When it comes to climate action, Horwath said the city needs to make all of its decisions through a climate lens instead of a separate department or priority.

On Indigenous reconciliation, Horwath said consultation with Indigenous groups should be proactive and done at the earliest stages of any project or discussion. Regarding the future of the John A. Macdonald statue, which was toppled last summer, she said it was not her decision to make, but one for the community to make.

Asked about tackling local crime, Horwath said policing and support for vulnerable young people was important, and she welcomed initiatives such as COASTwhich associates the police with social services.

While she said it was important to allow community organizations to help manage mental health crises in the community, she did not say it would lead to a change in police funding.

“I don’t know if it’s about increasing or decreasing budgets…it’s about who needs the services and how to prevent the services from being handed over to an organization that does not have that mandate,” she added. said.

Regarding Hamilton’s bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games, Horwath said hosting such an event can bring many benefits to the city’s “athletic” residents and potentially help solve problems. other city problems. “What I hope is that there are positives as a result of hosting,” she said.

Outgoing mayor and councilor support Horwath

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who is not running for re-election, said he supported Horwath.

District 4 Com. Sam Merulla, who is also not running for office, worked with Horwath between 2000 and 2004 when they were both councillors.

He said on Monday he was encouraging her to run.

Sam Merulla is councilor for Hamilton Ward 4 (east end). He supports Horwath’s candidacy for mayor. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

“More than ever, we need a strong individual with the experience, strength and connections at all levels of government who will get the job done,” Merulla wrote in an email to CBC.

“Being mayor is not an entry-level position…Andrea was there with me at the start of this city’s renaissance.”

Merulla said Horwath helped establish the Business Tax Reduction Program (now called Business Retention and Expansion To plan), the Downtown Convert/Renovate to Residential loan Program and the environmental sanitation and site improvement improvement community to plan.

The race for mayor will not be a “cake:” expert

Karen Bird, a political science professor at McMaster University, said Horwath’s entry into the mayoral race was turning things upside down, noting there were only two “serious” candidates in Bratina and Loomis.

Bird said Horwath would enjoy some benefits in the race, such as name recognition and a “really positive association with Hamilton.”

“She’s well known, she’s got a lot of experience, she’s a strong candidate and people will be interested in her for that reason,” Bird said of Horwath.

Although Bird – whose work focuses on the political representation of women and marginalized groups – said Horwath will likely have to consider the gender bias of some voters.

A smiling woman
Karen Bird is a professor of political science at McMaster University whose work focuses on the political representation of women and marginalized groups. (Submitted by Karen Bird)

“It is unfortunately still a persistent problem, which can be a barrier for Andrea and for women in general who are running for mayor,” she said. “Yes, she has a stroke, but it’s no picnic.”

In the city 175 yearshe never once had a woman for mayor.

Bird said Horwath was an “extremely talented” politician, but noted that Horwath’s failed bid to become Ontario premier could hurt her.

“A lot of people can see it as not part of a change, but part of a story as something we’ve tried before,” Bird said.

“They may also see her as someone who hasn’t succeeded at the provincial level.”