By Kevin Werner, News staff
Five people are now vying to replace outgoing Ward 9 councillor Brad Clark who is running for mayor in the Oct. 27 municipal election.
Geraldine McMullen and Tone Marrone are the newest contestants in the Ward 9 race that also includes Cam Galindo, Marie Robbins and Doug Conley.
Also known as Heritage Stoney Creek, Ward 9 includes more than 30,000 residents residing in upper and lower Stoney Creek.
The issues may have changed from four years ago, but Geraldine McMullen says her love for the community remains the same.
“I have always cared about Ward 9,” said McMullen, who has worked in the financial services sector and consulting for labour groups. “I took one stab at it, and decided I wanted to do it again.”
In the 2010 municipal election race, McMullen finished third with 999 votes behind incumbent councillor Brad Clark who topped the race with 3,454 votes. Second place went to Nancy Fiorentino who scooped up 2,343 votes.
In the 2014 election, scheduled for Oct. 27, Clark is seeking the mayor’s chair leaving Ward 9 wide open for potential challengers, and a different face representing Stoney Creek around the council table in the fall.
“It is fantastic to see new people engaged in the political process,” said McMullen. “It’s difficult to run anytime. There is a lot of hard work involved.”
In the 2010 election, topping the issues list for the city was the controversy over where to locate the Pan Am Stadium. That was settled early in the council term. But another potentially divisive issue that could dominate the political conversation in this campaign is funding light-rail transit system from McMaster University to Eastgate Square. While it will be an important item on council’s list in the new term, it has minimal interest to Stoney Creek residents. McMullen says she isn’t committed to an LRT system, arguing Stoney Creek’s transportation priorities should be improved transit service, especially along the north-south routes.
“We need to increase the frequency of transit service,” she said.
Other issues that have caught her attention for her ward are improving the area roads, boosting Stoney Creek’s downtown, and managing the area’s growth spurt.
McMullen, 48, who was born in Stoney Creek, and only recently relocated to just outside the ward, said she is looking to partner with the Business Improvement Area to make it easier to attract businesses along King Street.
There are a few new businesses locating along King Street. And the BIA is enticing people to the downtown through a monthly event called Saturday’s in The Creek.
“We have to ensure we are investing in the community,” she said. “People come here for the (Battlefield) re-enactment. But it’s a great place to visit year-round.”
McMullen is also cautiously optimistic about protecting the community’s open spaces while residential development continues to eat up land. She praises Clark for making sure the Eramosa Karst remained undisturbed from the residential growth that is occurring throughout upper Stoney Creek
“There should be a balance to encouraging growth, while preserving natural open space,” she said.
It’s also necessary to encourage the installation of pedestrian infrastructure where residential and commercial development is happening. She was “shocked” to discover the residential development being allowed beside Hamilton Teleport.
“These are high traffic areas,” she said. “But they don’t have the necessary pedestrian infrastructure.”
And McMullen is cognizant of protecting taxpayers from higher taxes. But she doesn’t want to say no new taxes while a councillor.
“I’m always careful about promising something you can’t deliver,” she said. “I believe in prudent financing.”
Former Hamilton Tiger-Cat Tone Marrone has been defying predictions for years.
Despite assertions that he couldn’t play football, the 6’3” Marrone was drafted by his hometown team and played a couple of years in the Canadian Football League before injuries forced him to retire.
Then by happenstance, the 53-year-old Hamilton native fell into the film business. He discovered he had a flare for acting after he walked into an east end barber shop and a production crew member told him he looked just like Paul Volpe. He was cast as the character and appeared in Mob Stories. That followed bit parts in films and landed him in Canadian television and commercial productions. He has also tried his hand at screenwriting.
In 2010, Marrone took a Hail Mary pass and ran for mayor, finishing a surprising fourth place against a tough political field that included Bob Bratina who won with 52,684 votes, ahead of former mayors Larry Di Ianni and Fred Eisenberger. Marrone collected 1,052 votes, on a shoe-string budget funded mostly by himself, without staff and no experience in the political game.
When he was campaigning for mayor, friends and supporters, while applauding his political ambitions, suggested instead of mayor, why not run for council instead.
He’s hoping that name proves an asset in Stoney Creek in this council contest, especially since he doesn’t live in the area.
His brother, Albert Marrone, served as the former city of Stoney Creek’s deputy-mayor, who lost in the 2000 municipal election against Larry Di Ianni for a place on the new amalgamated council.
“The name (Marrone) that will help,” he said.
He currently lives in Ward 6 with his daughter, Sabina, and her two children. As soon as he registered, he had to take a leave of absence from his job working for the city at the Chedoke golf course.
Marrone recent had tragedy invade his family life. Two years ago his daughter’s fiancé, 28-year-old Peter Kosid was bow hunting along Third Line Road when he was shot and killed by former Boston Bruins hockey player Stan Jonathan who was hunting deer at the same time. Marrone said Kosid’s death left his daughter with a large house with a mortgage, and two children to care for. He sold his house and moved in with his daughter on the mountain to help out.
“It was very tragic, mind-numbing,” he said.
The trial is expected to begin later this year for Jonathan, who is charged in the death.
Marrone’s election platform includes a plank from his mayoral campaign: freezing municipal taxes for overburdened homeowners.
He remains skeptical about spending over $800-million for a light-rail transit system. Businesses could suffer because of the construction, and there remain “a lot of questions” for the project, he says.
“I’m trying to justify it,” he said. “Where do you put it?”
He suggests instead of building it from McMaster University to Eastgate Square, construct it along Burlington Street where there would be minimal disruption.
Marrone would also wants to get the needed investment for Stoney Creek rather than have city dollars continuing to be dumped into the downtown. He says the downtown Stoney Creek revitalization plan has to continue.
And as Stoney Creek grows, especially on the mountain, neighbourhoods have to become more pedestrian friendly with bike lanes and speed limits. He wants a bylaw that assists the elderly that would help remove snow from their sidewalks.
Marrone is also promising to build either a new hospital in Stoney Creek or at least upgrade the St. Joseph’s healthcare facility on King Street.