Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 27, 2022
‘I love this city’: Former Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath enters Hamilton mayoral race
After weeks of speculation, Andrea Horwath is making it official.
Ontario’s former NDP leader is running for mayor of Hamilton.
“I’ve decided to jump in the race because I love this city. I always have,” she said.
“It’s the place where I get my passion from, and I’ve spent my whole life fighting for and working for Hamiltonians.”
Horwath, 59, makes it a three-way contest between main mayoral contenders Bob Bratina and Keanin Loomis.
To join the municipal race, Horwath will resign from her post as MPP for Hamilton Centre, not long after voters re-elected her in the June 2 provincial election.
It wasn’t an easy decision, she told The Spectator.
“I have a lot of respect for the people of Hamilton Centre and I’m very grateful for all the support that they’ve shown me over the years, but I think I can serve our city just as well, if not better, as mayor.”
With a win, Horwath would return to her political roots, having served as a city councillor in Ward 2 for seven years starting in 1997. In 2004, she made the leap to Queen’s Park and became NDP leader in 2009.
Her political career — in addition to legal clinic work before holding office — gives her a wide range of experience to be effective as mayor, Horwath says.
“I’m a collaborator. I always have been and I think that’s what a mayor needs to be. The mayor of Hamilton needs to be the mayor for all of Hamilton.”
Horwath officially announced her candidacy surrounded by supporters, including local NDP politicians past and present, at Commonwealth Square by the art gallery before registering at city hall across the street.
Horwath declined to offer specific policy positions, saying Tuesday’s announcement was about “letting people know” that she’s in the municipal race.
In an interview, she said her campaign will release a detailed platform as the contest progresses toward the Oct. 24 vote, but noted the city has “opportunities” and “challenges” alike.
Downtown redevelopment is booming compared to her time on council in the late 1990s and early 2000s, she said.
“I’m thrilled to see the number of cranes in our downtown, for sure. I can remember the days of walking through our downtown when I was a city councillor and wishing, praying that I’d eventually see a crane.”
But it’s crucial to ensure people can afford to live in Hamilton, she said.
“Do we need market housing? Yes, we do, but it needs to be affordable. It needs to be meeting the needs of families, of working people, of seniors. We need supportive housing.”
As Hamilton grows, it’s crucial to address traffic safety amid a “horrifying” rash of fatalities and injuries this year, Horwath said.
“For me, it’s really about making sure that we’re collaborative in our approach, that we bring people in and that we have a city where people trust that the decisions are being made in their best interest,” Horwath said.
“And so some of the issues around transparency and sharing of information, I think we need to address that. We can’t have pride in our city if there is a lack of trust.”
Horwath didn’t go into detail, but the outgoing council has been criticized for voting to initially keep under wraps the full magnitude and duration of a 24-billion-litre sewage spill into Chedoke Creek.
The term also overlaps with a council-initiated judicial inquiry into a buried asphalt friction report into the slippery Red Hill Valley Parkway. The inquiry has featured former engineering boss Gary Moore under questioning.
Horwath, alongside fellow New Democrat MPPs, at times has waded into local issues that overlap with provincial politics, including urging council to hold Hamilton’s urban boundary firm in the face of Progressive Conservative government pressure to expand into farmland.
She has also backed the $3.4-billion, Metrolinx-led LRT project — that the province abruptly cancelled before resurrecting with federal support — and called for affordable housing along the route.
Horwath’s competition is Loomis, who joined the race in early May after resigning as CEO of the local chamber of commerce, and Bratina, a former Liberal MP and mayor who filed his papers in June. (The Hamilton Spectator)