By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina won’t seek re-election this fall.
Bratina, who was elected in 2010, made the announcement March 14 to CHML’s Bill Kelly.
“I believe that 10 years of public service should show tangible positive results, and I honestly feel that I have achieved, with council, significant benefits for our residents,” said Bratina. “With all this in mind I have decided I will not stand for re-election as mayor of the City ofHamilton.”
Bratina was elected mayor in 2010, upsetting two former mayors Fred Eisenberger, the incumbent, and Larry Di Ianni. Bratina was first elected Ward 2 councillor in 2004 to replace Andrea Horwath in a special by-election race. Horwath became an NDP MPP at the time.
Bratina was unavailable for further comment, said his Chief of Staff Peggy Chapman. The mayor was leaving with his family for the weekend, she said.
Bratina is scheduled to talk about the state of the city at the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce March 18 at the North Wentworth Arena.
Bratina’s decision also continues a Hamilton mayoral tradition in the post-amalgamation era of not having more than a one-term mayor serve the position. Former mayors Bob Wade, Di Ianni, Eisenberger, and now Bratina will have all served only one term.
Stoney Creek councillor Maria Pearson said Bratina’s decision means the mayor’s race is now wide open.
“There have been a number of people looking to make an announcement,” she said. “It’s going to be very interesting over the next month. I’m surprise it has taken (Bratina) this long (to make a decision).”
Bratina’s announcement, which caught a few people off guard since they expected the mayor to seek re-election, leaves a race so far that includes Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, former Hamilton Alderman Don Ross, Michael Baldasaro, and resident Crystal Lavigne. Eisenberger has also indicated he will jump into the race to seek his old job back. In addition, Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson has said he is mulling over a potential mayoral bid.
Bratina cited his family, including his wife Carol, for making “some sacrifices” on behalf of his political career. He also pointed out his last “real” vacation was a trip toEuropein 2004.
“I will leave City Hall at the end of this term knowing that I am passing on to the next mayor a city that has turned the corner and regained its confidence,” he said. “We are a city on the rise and positioned to regain the prominence among Canadian cities we once enjoyed.”
Bratina ticked off a laundry list of accomplished over the last four years including successfully building the Pan Am Stadium; solving the intractable area-rating problems; enticing McMaster to build a Health Campus in the city’s core; getting GO train service to James Street North; preventing any labour unrest, and keeping taxes low, including a proposed 1.5 per cent average tax increase in this year’s budget.
“That’s lower than inflation, and the lowest since thenew city of Hamilton was created,” he said. “I have tried to lead by example in respecting the taxpayer.”
Bratina didn’t address what he will do once his term ends this fall. There had been some indication that he may seek a run at the federal level as the Liberal candidate against incumbent NDP MP David Christopherson, something he was contemplating doing prior to his decision to run for mayor in 2010.
“My decision today will allow me to give my full attention to the demands on the office of mayor without the distraction of an election campaign,” he said. “What the future holds remains to be seen.”