By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark caught Hamilton political observers off-guard and announced he's running for mayor in this fall’s municipal election.
Clark, 53, filed his nomination papers March 17.
“I don’t run to lose,” said Clark, in an impromptu new conference in his city hall office. “We are in the race to win. It’s the right thing for me, the right thing for the city.”
Clark said he has been thinking about seeking the mayor’s chair for about 18 months. People from across the city have encouraged him to run, he said. Clark had told Mayor Bob Bratina he wouldn’t challenge him if he sought re-election. But when Bratina announced March 15 he wasn’t running again,Clark said his supporters “were chomping at the bit” for the former Progressive Conservative MPP to run for mayor.
“(Bratina) surprised me,” said Clark.
But the veteran councillor filing his nomination papers so soon after the mayor’s decision was equally eye-brow raising among councillors, and city staff.
“That’s how I do things,” said Clark, adding he doesn’t hold news conferences when he does something.
Clark trumpeted his provincial experience, as well as his two-term political know how around the council table as benefits to becoming mayor.
He says the mayor needs to be an “ambassador” for the city, able to pick up a phone and speak to any provincial minister and the premier to discuss issues relating to the city, while also contacting chief executive officers and sell Hamilton as the best environment for businesses.
Clark, who said he will hold a more formal campaign kick-off in the future, said he wants to keep taxes low. He supports light-rail transit since it is a council priority, but opposes municipal tax dollars to pay for it.
Clark said creating job is his number one priority and he touts an administrative style that is collaborative with other politicians, and fellow councillors. He also points to council’s recent approval of a debt policy as “the most important document” council has approved during its term.
“I’m known as non-partisan,” he said.
Clark also addressed his arthritic condition, saying he has been feeling “great” over the last few months.
“My health is excellent,” he said, adding even his doctor has urged him to run for mayor.
“There are thousands of people who have arthritis and continue to go to work every day,” he said.
Clarkwas first elected in 2006, edging incumbent Ward 9 councillor Phil Bruckler in a hard-fought campaign. Clark was re-elected in 2010 by a wider margin over Nancy Fiorentino.
Clark represented Stoney Creek as the Tory MPP from 1999 to 2003 in the Mike Harris cabinet. The councillor, who prior to becoming a councillor worked for St. Peter’s, is married with three children and one grandchild.
Clark, who in an early interview was planning on running for re-election to council, had been promoting a number of projects on his to-do list for his Stoney Creek ward, including completing the east Mountain trail, building a splash pad in upper Stoney Creek, constructing a new rugby field and overseeing the reconstruction of King Street.
Clark joins a mayoral field that includes Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, former Hamilton alderman Don Ross, Michael Baldasaro, and resident Crystal Lavigne. There are other potential candidates that could enter the race, including former mayors Larry Di Ianni and Fred Eisenberger. Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson is also mulling over a bid.