By Kevin Werner, News Staff
A group of Hamilton councillors are trying to get the former city’s longest-serving mayor to take over councillor Bernie Morelli’s Ward 3 seat.
Councillors Sam Merulla is scheduled to introduce a motion at the Feb. 5 general issues committee meeting to have Bob Morrow serve out Morelli’s term.
“It is a move that is respectful Bernie,” said Merulla. “It is the path of least resistance. It also follows the direction of what Bernie had planned out and it fulfills our legislative obligations.”
Initially, Merulla and Chad Collins were prepared to continue serving the residents of Ward 3 as they had been doing while Morelli was sick. Merulla was in daily contact with Morelli about how to continue his work.
“We had a plan until the end of the term,” said Merulla. “Nobody thought about the legislative responsibilities.”
Council does have a number of options it could consider when replacing Morelli. Politicians could choose to hold a by-election, but Merulla says the earliest they could have one is May 29. The latest a by-election could be held is June 24.
A by-election would also create “chaos,” said Merulla, since some candidates for the Oct. 27 municipal election would have to run twice for the same seat, spending an excessive amount of money. And having a person serve for only about four months, doesn’t make sense, said Merulla.
“It’s not fair,” he said. “”The expenditure is irresponsible.”
Another option is for councillors to conduct interviews for the position, and then select a person. But that doesn’t mean the person selected wouldn’t run in the municipal election.
Merulla, and Collins believe that by having Morrow serve out the term, it would fulfill Morelli’s request.
Morrow isn’t expected to seek re-election.
Morrow has been contacted, and Merulla said “he was honoured” by the request.
In his last campaign in 2000, Morrow received some of his largest political strength in the inner city, including Ward 3.
Morrow defeated William Powell in the 1982 mayoral election, and subsequently was re-elected over six mayoral elections until he was defeated by Ancaster Mayor Bob Wade as the new amalgamated mayor in 2000.
Morrow successful ran for Ward 1 alderman in 1968, but he was disqualified because his name wasn’t on the voters’ list. Morrow ran again in 1970 and won. In 1972 he won a seat on Hamilton’s Board of Control. When it was abolished, Morrow ran for the Progressive Conservatives for Hamilton West in the 1981 provincial election, but was defeated by Liberal Stuart Smith.
After his mayoral defeat, he was appointed as a citizenship judge in 2004 retiring in 2010. He is the organist at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and he played at Morelli’s funeral mass.
Since Morelli’s passing, there have been a number of individuals, including former politicians who have contacted councillors expressing an interest in filling his seat.
But Merulla said since Morrow’s name has appeared, most Ward 3 residents have applauded the decision.
“They are pleased with the choice to have a person of Bob’s stature,” said Merulla.