If Stoney Creek Councillor Brad Clark is successful in his bid to become mayor of Hamilton, his focus will be very much on the senior levels of government. “I think my exposure at Queen’s Park, which allowed me to work with the federal government as well, can provide a package that can be used to the benefit of the City of Hamilton,” he told the Bay Observer. “To me the number one job of the mayor is to have positive personal relationships with (federal and provincial) ministers.” He thinks more can be done to promote jobs—“not just job retention, but sending the message internationally of how many natural advantages Hamilton has— low taxes and housing costs being the main ones along with a good workforce.”
After 8 years on Hamilton City Council following his time as a cabinet minister in the Harris and Eves governments; Clark is well aware of the challenges any mayor faces trying to work with an often fractious Hamilton City Council; especially for a personality like Clark’s who has not hesitated to take a contrary view from his colleagues from time to time. “You do the best you can,” he said, “by reaching out to council, by trying to stop surprises from popping up at council. We have councillors with varied backgrounds—and dialogue isn’t always happening. We need to develop a team environment.” Adding, “that dynamic doesn’t exist now and didn’t exist in the previous administration. Council should be more than an official opposition for the mayor.”
Clark has sometimes annoyed his colleagues on council for being fussy about following process. He recently asked for reconsideration of a council decision to appoint former mayor Bob Morrow to the vacant Ward 3 seat— not because he opposed the move, but because he thought there should have been some public consultation first.
He describes himself as a “stickler” when it comes to policy and process. “When we give special authority to an individual councillor or councillors,
that’s when we get into trouble,” he explained, when asked about the cosy relationship between some members of council and the Waterfront Trust, which has received about $12 Million in sole-sourced contract work for the city without providing any detailed accounting of its spending.
Asked what he is hearing from constituents about the way City Hall is operating, he said some constituents are generally happy with the past 4 years. “But some are not happy with the way council deals with senior governments. “Council moving a motion criticising a senior government smacks of partisan politics,” he said referring to some past council resolutions.
On the improving economic front he says his constituents think it is outside of council control. “There is an impression that it’s going to happen with or without council,” he said. “Imagine how much better things could be with somebody (as mayor ) who has great relationships with the senior governments.”
Brad Clark rose to prominence as a community activist, opposing the Taro Dump in Stoney Creek, and after it was approved, pressing for environmental safeguards. He has a varied background in managing associations and fundraising. During the Tarot battles Clark was national development director of the Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada. Later he became a fundraiser for the Hamilton Conservation Authority Foundation and at one time was executive Director of the Songwriters’ Association of Canada. He lost a tight race for Mayor of Stoney Creek against Ann Bain in 1997. He entered provincial politics originally as a Liberal supporting the nomination of Chris Phillips for the provincial riding of Stoney Creek, but surprised many by jumping to the Conservative banner and ultimately capturing the riding for Mike Harris in the 1999 election. He became Minister of Transportation in 2001 and Minister of Labour in 2002. He lost his seat to Jennifer Mossop in the McGuinty sweep of 2003. Following a stint at St.Peters Hospital he was elected to Hamilton City Council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.