By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton councillor Brian McHattie has given himself until the end of October to determine if he will run for mayor.
“It will provide a good length of time to get organized and then declare in early January, get in some fundraising, all the stuff you need to do to challenge for mayor,” said McHattie in an interview.
The veteran councillor, who has represented Ward 1 since he was first elected in 2003, said it may be time to move beyond his council seat. Over the last few years he has been courted to run for mayor, as well as seek provincial and federal office. But, McHattie says, he decided it was at the municipal level where he could have the most impact.
“My heart is in municipal politics,” said McHattie. “I love city hall and a chance to make a difference at the municipal level. I continue to think it is the best place to be from a political perspective if not ward one, then the mayoral position.”
McHattie ran for mayor in 1997 against incumbent mayor Bob Morrow of the former city of Hamilton, placing fourth, receiving 5.4 per cent of the vote.
In the 2003 municipal election he upset incumbent Ward 1 councillor Marvin Caplan, capturing 57 per cent of the vote against 31 per cent for Caplan. Over the next two elections his percentage of the vote for Ward 1 has increased from 62 per cent in 2006 to 64 per cent in 2010.
McHattie, born in Weston, Ont., moved to Hamilton in 1987. A graduate of the Universityof Waterloo with a degree in environmental studies, he received a masters of science degree from the Universityof Guelph in planning and community development. He worked for Environment Canada, the Hamilton Conservation Authority, and was working towards a PhD when he won election in 2003.
Mayor Bob Bratina has yet to formally announce his re-election bid for the 2014 municipal election. In 2010 there were about 15 people vying for the mayor’s position. Bratina surprised some observers by defeating former mayors Larry Di Ianni, and Fred Eisenberger, who was seeking re-election.
During his time in office McHattie has championed such issues as curbing urban sprawl, establishing proper municipal planning procedures, implementing more sustainable transportation, including public transit, cycling, and light-raise transit, and preserving Hamilton’s heritage buildings.
Serving with three mayors – Di Ianni, Eisenberger, and Bob Bratina – McHattie says he has learned what not to do when it comes to governing.
“It’s a different experience with the three mayors on that,” he said.
For instance, there should be a better sense of collaboration between the mayor and the ward councillors on what needs to be done in their individual wards, and what is happening to the city.
“You’ve got to respect the fact that a councillor is in many ways the mayor of their ward,” said McHattie. “And they know more about their ward than anybody else does.”
McHattie would also include councillors in how the city interacts with the federal and provincial representatives. He said councillors are pretty much excluded from those discussions.
“In fact, particularly now, we have no idea what’s going on in terms of meeting with provincial and federal leaders,” said McHattie. “The councillors have the talent around the room. Give them a role to play.”
McHattie, who is married, is meeting with a number of people gauging their support, and discovering there is a positive attitude towards his candidacy.
“People do ask you (about running for mayor),” said McHattie. “Three terms on city council it’s time to think of something a bit different.”