By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton mayoral candidate Brian McHattie wants a platform of big ideas on improving the city, but his campaign will be bolstered by a budget that is expected to be about $250,000.
McHattie, who was first elected Ward 1 councillor in 2003, said his campaign budget was set after reviewing previous Hamilton mayoral races.
“It needs to be (expensive),” said McHattie, 53, who officially kicked off his campaign at LIUNA Station Jan. 28, surrounded by his wife Dr. Elaine Blau, stepson Mitchell Blau, and applauded by an estimated 400 cheering supporters. “You really need that kind of financial support to tread across this large city and to work with the media.”
During the evening the campaign raised a total of $30,000, including 20 people pledging $750 donations, the maximum a person can offer. The mayoral campaign had a campaign limit of about $300,000.
McHattie said he will think about revealing his campaign donors over the course of the election, a tactic former mayor Fred Eisenberger did during the 2006 election.
“That’s something I will talk to my team about,” said McHattie. “That’s something we did in Ward 1.”
The slick campaign McHattie and his team offered included buttons, placards, and blue t-shirts with the phrase “Together, we can do more.” People mingled about cradling drinks from a cash bar, while munching on gluten-free snacks. McHattie’s team was also signing up people for donations. Entertainment was provided by Hamilton band Harlan Pepper.
McHattie trumpeted that his campaign will be “different” and “push the boundaries.” Part of the tactics include encouraging people to be interactive by using social media to connect with voters.
But McHattie also emphasized he will knock on doors, and hold get togethers in people’s homes across the city. He has already held these meetings in Ancaster and in west Hamilton. Although he has been an urban councillor for over 10 years, he says it’s important to connect with all of Hamilton’s residents.
“It’s a campaign that marries the urban, the suburban and rural, with three types of neighbourhoods,” he said.
During the event, there were testimonials by friends and supporters of McHattie, including Graham Crawford, Jeff Feswick, and Abram Bergen, owner of the Hammer Active Alternative Transportation Cooperative Inc. Prior to McHattie’s speech, a campaign video was presented showing the councillor in close up talking about his goals.
McHattie said he wants residents to provide the ideas to make Hamilton grow. He sketched out five areas that will provide a “framework” for his campaign, including listening to the community; smarter growth that is better not just bigger; an improved environment; open and a responsive government to citizens and businesses; and creating jobs.
“We need to work together,” McHattie told reporters later. “We need to collaborate. How can the city help rather than get in the way? How can council come together as a team? It’s about what the citizens have done. And if we can build on these things and help them do more.”
He suggested, as an example, expanding the city’s neighbourhood development strategy from its current 11 neighbourhoods into the rest of Hamilton’s communities. The city has earmarked $2 million to invest in the ideas recommended in each community’s action plans.
“We need to take it right across the city to help form neighbourhood associations,” said McHattie.
Among the supporters attending the event were Flamborough councillor Robert Pasuta, while Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr hosted the launch.
“I’m honoured to be asked,” said Farr, who didn’t want to say he endorsed McHattie’s mayoral bid.
“Brian’s a good friend, a good colleague. He’s genuine and passionate about the city.”
Farr also read a letter sent by Ward 8 councillor Terry Whitehead. And while Whitehead didn’t outright endorse McHattie, he wished him well on his campaign.
Crawford told the crowd that McHattie’s campaign was the community’s “best chance for a progressive agenda” for the city.
“I like the way Brian thinks,” he said.
Other candidates in the mayoral race include former Mountain alderman Don Ross, Michael Baldasaro, and Crystal Lavigne.
Mayor Bob Bratina, who was elected in a tight 2010 race is expected to enter the contest soon, while former mayor Fred Eisenberger, who served from 2006 to 2010 has also stated he will also run. Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson is also mulling his chances in the mayoral contest.