Municipal Election 2018

Eisenberger Re-Elected Decisively in 'LRT Referendum' Election

LRT opponents insisted this election was a referendum on the project. Now it's time to put the never-ending debate to bed and get the shovels into the ground.

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 23, 2018

Incumbent Mayor Fred Eisenberger was re-elected yesterday in a decisive 54.03 percent vote after a strong challenge by well-funded single-issue challenger Vito Sgro, who came in second with 38.06 percent.

#yesLRT lawn sign
#yesLRT lawn sign

Eisenberger ran a low-key campaign that touted the City's accomplishments over the past four years - including a plan to invest $50 million over ten years in affordable housing and securing full capital funding for light rail transit (LRT) - and presented himself as the steady hand who will keep moving the city in the right direction.

His election priorities include growing and diversifying the economy, increasing access to housing, intensifying under-used land within the urban boundary, partnering with community organizations and higher levels of government in a "Team Hamilton" approach to realize opportunities, and continuing to implement the Ten Year Transit Strategy while building LRT on the B-Line.

In 2014, Eisenberger ran on a split-the-difference position with respect to LRT, noting that he personally supported it but that the City should establish a Citizens Jury to review the case for and against LRT and make a recommendation to Council. As it happened, the Province confirmed full funding before that Citizens Jury convened, but the Jury's final report neverthelesss concluded that LRT has "great potential for city-building" and that a "well planned" implementation will achieve "development, jobs and affordable housing, making the City an even more attractive place to live, work, raise a family, grow old, visit and invest in."

This time around, Eisenberger wore his LRT support on his sleeve. Challenging the "Fred's Train" refrain of LRT opponents, Eisenberger insists this project is "everyone's light rail" and cites the broad cross-section of LRT support from across the spectrum of business, labour, environmental, social policy, community and political sectors.

Eisenberger's positions on the RTH municipal policy questions are generally progressive. He supports LRT, of course, but also supports concentrating new growth within the already-built area with intensification and inclusionary zoning, expanding transit across the city and phasing out area rating (excepting rural residents, who do not pay a transit levy), implementing a Vision Zero approach to road safety and expanding our cycling network.

Sgro a Fringe Candidate

Eisenberger's main challenger in this election was Vito Sgro, who ran on a single-issue anti-LRT "Stop the Train" campaign. Sgro is by all accounts an experienced, well-connected political insider. He has impressive fundraising and campaigning skills, which he put to highly effective use to cultivate the illusion that he was a serious candidate.

But it was only an illusion. Take away the truckloads of money he poured into constant automated telephone push-polls, radio commercials, Facebook and YouTube ads, lawn signs, and even an airplane banner, and Sgro was just another fringe candidate with no platform and no real vision for the city.

His entire campaign was built on a cheap, appealing slogan, which fell apart under even rudimentary scrutiny. When the Hamilton Spectator published my critique of his platform, Sgro actually reacted by trying to get the op-ed taken down - never a good sign.

His campaign was an embarrassment of exactly the same tired, discredited "LRT facts" we have come to expect from the small, reactionary anti-LRT group. This included the bizarre assertion that the five anti-LRT councillors who endorsed him in the final days of the campaign were "almost half" of the 15-member Council.

Yet Another LRT Referendum

While Eisenberger and other LRT supporters argued that there are lots of important civic issues and this election should be about more than just LRT, the anti-LRT activists insisted on making the election yet another referendum on LRT.

So with Eisenberger's decisive victory - he received a clear majority of votes, not just the largest plurality - it should be interesting to see whether the LRT opponents will finally concede that they do not, in fact, speak for some silent majority.

Now it's time to put this never-ending debate to bed and get the shovels into the ground. Our elected leaders have a duty to understand and explain the broad city-wide benefits of this investment for everyone, so that divisive obstructionists can no longer use it to keep trying to drive a wedge into the city.

New Faces Around Council

For various reasons, there will be several new faces around the Council table. Ward 1 Councillor Aidan Johnson and Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green decided not to seek re-election. Ward 7 was vacated when Donna Skelly jumped ship to run for provincial office in Flamborough-Glanbook. At the same time, a ward boundary revision imposed by the Ontario Municipal Board late last year eliminated the rual Ward 14 while adding a ward across the upper city.

In addition to those changes, one incumbent was unseated by an experienced former politician who made a successful return to Council in Ward 9.

In Ward 1, an open seat, Maureen Wilson won with 41.51 percent of the vote, with Jason Allen coming in second at 17 percent and Carol Lazich coming in third at 12.01 percent.

In Ward 2, incumbent Jason Farr was re-elected with 46.86 percent of the vote, with Cameron Kroetsch coming in second at 29.99 percent and Diane Chiarelli coming in third at 6.37 percent.

In Ward 3, an open seat, Nrinder Nann won with 33.96 percent of the vote, with Laura Farr coming in second at 19.08 percent and Ned Kuruc coming in third at 13.83 percent.

In Ward 4, incumbent Sam Merulla won with 78.35 percent of the vote, with challenger Rod Douglas receiving 21.65 percent.

In Ward 5, incumbent Chad Collins won with 80.28 percent of the vote, with Juanita Maldonado coming in second at 14.16 percent and Stewart Klazinga coming in third at 5.56 percent.

In Ward 6, incumbent Tom Jackson won with 82.26 percent of the vote, with Timothy Taylor coming in second at 9.41 percent and Brad Young coming in third at 8.34 percent.

In Ward 7, an open seat, Esther Pauls won with 25 percent of the vote, with Geraldine McMullen coming in second at 15.57 percent and Dan MacIntyre coming in third at 14.38 percent.

In Ward 8, an open seat due to ward boundary redistribution, John-Paul Danko won with 41.67 percent of the vote, with former MP Eve Adams coming in second at 23.39 percent and CH weather reporter Steve Ruddick coming in third at 21.26 percent.

In Ward 9 (Upper Stoney Creek), challenger Brad Clark won with 38.73 percent of of the vote, defeating incumbent Doug Conley with 29.91 percent and third-place finisher Peter Lanza with 23.32 percent.

In Ward 10 (Stoney Creek), incumbent Maria Pearson held her seat with 36.34 percent of the vote, with Louie Milojevic coming in second at 27.25 percent and Jeff Beattie coming in third at 24.53 percent.

In Ward 11 (Glanbrook), incumbent Brenda Johnson won with 87.97 percent of the vote - the highest margin of victory in the election - with Waleed Shewayhat coming in second at 12.03 percent.

In Ward 12 (Ancaster), incumbent Lloyd Ferguson won with 58.3 percent of the vote, with Miranda Reis coming in second at 19.12 percent and Mike Bell coming in third at 14.15 percent.

In Ward 13 (Dundas), incumbent Arlene VanderBeek held her seat with 34.49 percenet of the vote, with Rich Gelder coming in second at 26.93 percent and John Mykytyshyn coming in third at 18.24 percent.

In Ward 14 (new west Mountain), quasi-incumbent Terry Whitehead won with 57.79 percent of the vote, with Bryan Wilson coming second at 27.34 percent and Roslyn French-Sanges coming in third at 9 percent.

In Ward 15 (Waterdown), incumbent Judi Partridge won with 51.61 percent, with challenger Susan McKechnie coming close at 48.39 percent.

Detailed Results

Candidate Votes Percent
Eisenberger, Fred 74,093 54.03%
Sgro, Vito 52,190 38.06%
Rusich, George 2,220 1.62%
Davis, Jim 2,071 1.51%
Xian Yi Yan, Nathalie 1,286 0.94%
Pattison, Michael 899 0.66%
Fromm, Paul 706 0.51%
Gomes, Carlos 521 0.38%
May, Todd 500 0.36%
Geissler, Henry 494 0.36%
Ryerson, Phil 479 0.35%
Schmid-Jones, Ute 463 0.34%
Hc Graydon, Edward 409 0.30%
Wozny, Mark 408 0.30%
Tavares, Ricky 398 0.29%
Ward 1
Candidate Votes Percent
Wilson, Maureen 3,664 41.51%
Allen, Jason 1,501 17%
Lazich, Carol 1,060 12.01%
Geffros, Sophie 905 10.25%
Miklos, Lyla 294 3.33%
Narducci, Linda 238 2.70%
Massie, Richard 235 2.66%
Geertsma, Jordan 202 2.29%
Bakht, Syed 162 1.84%
White, Harrison 157 1.78%
Anderson, Sharon 147 1.67%
Eroglu, Ela 137 1.55%
Cole, Sharon 125 1.42%
Ward 2
Candidate Votes Percent
Farr, Jason 3,162 46.86%
Kroetsch, Cameron 2,024 29.99%
Chiarelli, Diane 430 6.37%
Tennant, Mark 362 5.36%
Vail, John 296 4.39%
Smith, Nicole 281 4.16%
Daljeet, Suresh 120 1.78%
Unsworth, James 73 1.08%
Ward 3
Candidate Votes Percent
Nann, Nrinder 2,618 33.96%
Farr, Laura 1,471 19.08%
Kuruc, Ned 1,066 13.83%
Salonen, Amanda 552 7.16%
Smith, Dan 474 6.15%
Bureau, Alain 314 4.07%
Balta, Milena 269 3.49%
Rowe, Stephen 232 3.01%
Kavanaugh, Brendan 213 2.76%
Lemma, Tony 196 2.54%
Sprague, Kristeen 120 1.56%
Paul Denault, Steven 100 1.30%
Beck, Keith 83 1.08%
Ward 4
Candidate Votes Percent
Merulla, Sam 6,913 78.35%
Douglas, Rod 1,910 21.65%
Ward 5
Candidate Votes Percent
Collins, Chad 7,596 80.28%
Maldonado, Juanita 1,340 14.16%
Klazinga, Stewart 526 5.56%
Ward 6
Candidate Votes Percent
Jackson, Tom 8,247 82.26%
Taylor, Timothy 943 9.41%
Young, Brad 836 8.34%
Ward 7
Candidate Votes Percent
Pauls, Esther 3,016 25%
Mcmullen, Geraldine 1,878 15.57%
Macintyre, Dan 1,735 14.38%
Dirani, Adam 1,418 11.75%
Grice-Uggenti, Karen 1,280 10.61%
Clarke, Steve 1,243 10.30%
Mccoll, Jim 662 5.49%
Benson, Steve 411 3.41%
Kazubek, Joseph 160 1.33%
Schneider, Roland 157 1.30%
Clowater, Kristopher 104 0.86%
Ward 8
Candidate Votes Percent
Danko, John-Paul 3,752 41.67%
Adams, Eve 2,097 23.29%
Ruddick, Steve 1,905 21.16%
Wicken, Colleen 911 10.12%
Simpson, Anthony 288 3.20%
Climie, Christopher 50 0.56%
Ward 9
Candidate Votes Percent
Clark, Brad 2,539 38.73%
Conley, Doug 1,961 29.91%
Lanza, Peter 1,529 23.32%
Ford, David 330 5.03%
Singh Multani, Lakhwinder 197 3%
Ward 10
Candidate Votes Percent
Pearson, Maria 3,988 36.34%
Milojevic, Louie 2,990 27.25%
Beattie, Jeff 2,692 24.53%
Thompson, Ian 1,304 11.88%
Ward 11
Candidate Votes Percent
Johnson, Brenda 6,129 87.97%
Shewayhat, Waleed 838 12.03%
Ward 12
Candidate Votes Percent
Ferguson, Lloyd 7,000 58.30%
Reis, Miranda 2,296 19.12%
Bell, Mike 1,699 14.15%
Scime, John 801 6.67%
Marley, Kevin 210 1.75%
Ward 13
Candidate Votes Percent
Vanderbeek, Arlene 3,953 34.49%
Gelder, Rich 3,087 26.93%
Mykytyshyn, John 2,091 18.24%
Gray, Kevin 895 7.81%
Roberts, John 661 5.77%
Bonomo, Gaspare 598 5.22%
Mitchell, Pamela 177 1.54%
Ward 14
Candidate Votes Percent
Whitehead, Terry 5,358 57.79%
Wilson, Bryan 2,535 27.34%
French-Sanges, Roslyn 834 9%
Iszkula, Robert 295 3.18%
Samuel, Vincent 249 2.69%
Ward 15
Candidate Votes Percent
Partridge, Judi 3,471 51.61%
Mckechnie, Susan 3,255 48.39%

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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[ - ]

By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 09:25:10

6 yeses, 5 nos and 5 that have a ton of bargaining power right now...

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:19:01 in reply to Comment 124034

I don't know about those flip floppers. For one Terry seemed pretty staunch in his no-LRT stance photo-opping with Sgro etc AND he may really want to stick it to a certain transit advocate - can't quite recall his name... If Brad Clark flips to Yes even he must know that no one will ever take him seriously again. The qualified support I agree 100% and it may not be too hard to pull 2 votes out of there. Collins and Ferguson most likely. They seem sensible and least likely to get sucked into Fords little game.

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By Inhocmark (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 10:42:59

It blows my mind that especially up here in Ward 15 neither of our Council options saw the advantage of keeping your LRT cards close to your vest and using ultimate support as a way to swing favourable deals on other files (ie. Area Rating/Getting Waterdown Connected to the core). Partridge went all in first on Rick Goldring's Annexation gambit and then supporting Vito Sgro. I have no clue how she's going to work in Council now that she's managed to burn her bridges.

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By AP (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 14:45:02

Any one else wondering how Brad Clark was able to campaign on the lack of action in his ward on wider streets, sidewalks, etc. when he was the person leading the way for 8 of the last 12 years...? I am confused.

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By andrew.martin (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 15:01:27

Remember that the project is going forward as it is, it is out for tender. If we do nothing, the RFP will close and the contract will be awarded. They need nine votes to cancel it (a tie loses), which is all of the nays, both flip-floppers, and 4 of 5 of the rest. That ain't happening. Dreschel may try his best to continue stirring the pot but this was a decisive election.

Comment edited by andrew.martin on 2018-10-23 15:02:48

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By BTH (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 15:37:12

Is the project still in motion? Originally the contract was supposed to have been awarded this spring with construction starting in the fall, so around now, and then it got pushed back to having the contract awarded in the fall of 2018, so again around now, but the last article that I saw said that Metrolinx was going to award it in 2019. When in 2019 wasn't specified so it could be anywhere from January to December, potentially over a year from now.

Both the Hamilton Spectator and CBC reported on August 30th that Metrolinx had paused work on the Hamilton LRT during the spending freeze instituted by the incoming Ford government. Has Metrolinx resumed work on the LRT since then or is it still idle?

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By rednic (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 17:36:04

Many of re elect councilors have a vested interested in arguing the LRT till the bitter end. If LRT resolved they would avtually have to deal with real decisions. That might be controversal.

Best thing to do now is all pro LRT councilors make it clear.

•no Watertown bypass till LRT approval

• no widening of Fennel till LRT approval

• no more paving over more farmland till LRT approval.

• no improved rural emergency services until LRT approvals

Watch how fast everyone toes the line

Comment edited by rednic on 2018-10-23 17:36:28

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 17:52:51 in reply to Comment 124041

Aside from improved rural emergency services, all of those things are Very Bad Things that should be opposed anyway.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 18:03:13

It was not just the mayoral election that was a referendum on LRT. Congratulations to Maureen Wilson in Ward 1, where the ward election was also a referendum on LRT.

I bought a suit from Carol and Tom Lazich two months ago. Those people, like RTH editor Ryan, who have met me in Real Life know that I am 6' 8" tall. I have been a regular customer of Gilbert's Big and Tall for the last 32 years. They have done an excellent job in fitting me, and I am a completely satisfied customer when it comes to their clothes.

But not when it comes to their politics! The store even went to far as to post signs on the storefront proclaiming Carol's opposition to LRT.

Carol has a right to freedom of speech, but I made it clear to her that if she made any blanket statement along the lines of "Our customers oppose LRT," then I would publicly call her out on it.

As far as I am aware, she made no such claim. And the pro-LRT candidate won, with Carol in third place.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2018-10-23 18:06:45

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 18:13:32 in reply to Comment 124035

nobody is ever gonna take Brad Clark seriously again already.

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[ - ]

By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 18:14:23 in reply to Comment 124041


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By rednic (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 19:19:29 in reply to Comment 124043

So you funded the anti LRT campaign? I have studiously avoided businesses who posted signs for anti LRT candidates.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 23, 2018 at 20:36:35 in reply to Comment 124043

I like the idea that pro-lrt people don't have to go all scorched earth on anti-lrt people. Definitely the more personally challenging route.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 24, 2018 at 02:26:32 in reply to Comment 124046

Yes, I am somewhat torn about that. A boycott is a legitimate tactic, but it works best if it is organized and very public. Businesses hate that kind of bad publicity.

Right now, I have a different strategy for when I am a regular customer of businesses that post anti-LRT signs or whose owners make anti-LRT statements. I have been a regular customer of Gilbert's and Dennigers long before LRT became a political issue. My current strategy is to make a copy of my receipt, and send it in with a letter to the business owner saying that I am a regular customer who is offended by their anti-Hamilton political beliefs. And ask for a meeting to discuss this.

I may not change any minds, but business owners will quite often tone down the public proclamation of their their anti-LRT beliefs when regular customers complain.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 24, 2018 at 02:44:46 in reply to Comment 124044

It looks like 2,539 people took Mr. Clark so seriously that they voted for him.

His win with only 38.7% of the vote (and Esther Pauls at only 25%) is a good argument for ranked ballots. That seems to have worked in London on Monday. And in all of Australia all the time.

I have a feeling that Mr. Clark is not too many people's second choice. So a ranked ballot would have put him out off office.

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By Blotto (registered) | Posted October 24, 2018 at 08:45:59

Oct. 19/2018

There are mixed feelings in Kitchener Waterloo where their region’s LRT is scheduled to start operating in December.

Construction began in 2015 and after many delays some residents are excited to finally use the service, while others say the entire process was a nightmare.

A business owner in Waterloo said if the light rail train is a go ahead in Hamilton, businesses should avoid signing long term leases.

The LRT in kitchener waterloo hasn’t even begun service yet, but restaurant owner David O’Leary says its put him out of business.

“An absolute nightmare...'

We are in interesting times.


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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted October 24, 2018 at 09:07:30 in reply to Comment 124035

How would this be voted on again when LRT has been approved with an agreement in place? Would a motion by a councillor be all it takes?

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted October 25, 2018 at 20:06:09 in reply to Comment 124058

Of course, the end of that story provides some balance... would help if you had noted that too, no?

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