By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Stoney Creek councillor Brenda Johnson’s political career has always been a balancing act.
On election night in the 2010 municipal election, Johnson, who was in the only close ward race against long-time incumbent councillor Dave Mitchell, received a call from a reporter apologizing for her loss. A confident Johnson, though, told the reporter to call back in half hour.
And sure enough, Johnson was right. Once all the votes were counted, she toppled Mitchell 4,410 votes to 4,165 votes. Ken Chartrand finished third with 1,896 votes.
Johnson quickly assured people who had voted for Mitchell she was there to help everybody in the ward and didn’t care who they had supported.
So it was with a little bit of trepidation that she has put her name in again seeking re-election for the Oct. 27 municipal contest.
“I still have a lot of things I want to complete,” said Johnson, 55, who did waver over whether she should run again.
It has been a busy term so far.
Over the last three years Johnson has overseen the Stoney Creek Urban Boundary Expansion; helped to get the Winona Public School constructed, which could eventually mean the long-promised recreation centre for the area; encouraged the construction of an outdoor ice rink at Winona Peach Field; seen improvements made to Seabreeze Park on the south side of the Queen Elizabeth Way; splash pads built in Binbrook and Mount Hope; a new skateboard park in Binbrook so the area youth can have something to do instead of vandalizing property and the parking lot paved at the community park in Mount Hope.
One issue that Johnson says was crucial to get passed was solving the area-rating policy in 2011, which helped suburban residents save some money.
“That was very much on my agenda.”
Johnson’s Ward 11, which stretches from Lake Ontario, through Winona, to Binbrook and all the way over to Mount Hope, is one of the fastest growing areas of Hamilton. Development is swarming the Glanbrook and Binbrook areas, with houses sprouting up quicker than mushrooms along Rymal Road. She expects that by 2018 there will be about 60,000 more people from the estimated 26,000 that live in the area now.
Although Johnson rejected a proposal to give the mountain councillors another ward, she suggested councillors wait four years to give the area another ward.
“It is huge,” she acknowledges. “We may need to (distribute) the ward by population or geography.”
If re-elected, Johnson’s agenda is just as ambitious as the last four years. She wants to get Memorial Hall in Binbrook and the Mount Hope Community Hall refurbished. Memorial Hall is one of two community buildings in Hamilton constructed to honour the veterans of World War I.
“It needs some updating,” she said.
Johnson takes a realistic approach to running again. Despite all the work, travelling, and late nights, she hopes she has earned the confidence of the people in the area to continue serving as councillor.
“I had four years to convince residents (of her abilities),” she said. “I hope I still have the support of the residents. If not, then that’s on me.”