By Kevin Werner, News Staff
For nine years, Doug Conley helped to decide Stoney Creek’s future as a councillor until the municipality merged with the new City of Hamilton in 2001.
Nearly 13 years later, Conley wants to do the same thing for Hamiltonians as Stoney Creek’s representative on city council.
A few months ago the 68-year-old, who works at O’Hara Technologies in Richmond Hill, registered to run in Ward 9 for the upcoming municipal election.
“It can be very rewarding working with people,” said Conley.
The veteran politician, who last dipped into politics when he placed second in the 2000 federal election as the local Canadian Alliance candidate, acknowledged he wouldn’t have put his name in if incumbent councillor Brad Clark was seeking re-election.
“I know I wouldn’t beat him,” he said. “But when Brad announced he was running for mayor, I saw an opportunity. I do miss (politics). I feel I can represent the community well.”
So far Conley hasn’t been electioneering very hard. So far there are two other candidates for Clark’s job, Cam Galindo and Marie Robbins. He expects to ramp up his campaign activities in the later part of the summer. Even though he has been away from the local political scene, Conley says the issues confronting the ward remain essentially the same. He wants to manage the growth that has dominated upper Stoney Creek, such as getting much needed access to Rymal Road.
“There are a lot of complaints about the lack of access,” said Conley, who has lived in the ward in upper Stoney Creek since 1981. “You have to get it right when you build surveys.”
He is hesitant about supporting the light-rail transit project, which has been dominating the political conversation in certain parts of Hamilton for the last few months. He calls it “very, very expensive” and “not the best thing to do for the city.”
Conley, though, is intrigued about representing the entire city of Hamilton. Born and raised in Hamilton, Conley said ward residents come first, but as a Hamilton councillor he will represent the entire city. He thinks Hamilton needs to do more to attract businesses and investment, which would benefit the entire community.
“We can’t be satisfied with what is happening,” he said. “Stoney Creek seems to be doing well. But are we aggressively working to improve?”
He suggests following Michigan’s public awareness campaign with its billboards encouraging people to visit that state.
“We should go after businesses. We can be the Ambitious City again,” he said.
With his international experience in working at O’Hara Technologies, he has made contacts in the Asia-Pacific areas on how to open up trading opportunities.
Meanwhile, back in Stoney Creek, Conley is eager to finish what he started on Stoney Creek council by completing the former city’s downtown redevelopment. He said the award-winning Olde Town Urban Design Plan that mapped out the revitalization of King Street has to be finished.
If he is successful in the Oct. 27 municipal election, Conley will have to make a choice. He acknowledges it would be almost impossible to be a councillor and continuing working full-time.
“I couldn’t do both jobs,” he said. “It would be a big change (giving up his job). But it would be a very rewarding change.”