With his announcement March 7th that he would not seek re-election, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina threw the race for the city’s top job wide open. It also meant that Bratina becomes the 4th Hamilton Mayor in a row to either retire after one term or lose at the polls. Bratina’s move gave new life to the aspirations of undeclared candidates like Larry DiIanni, Fred Eisenberger and Lloyd Ferguson, and fueled speculation that someone outside the circle of current and former politicians might enter the race. Bratina’s early announcement of his intentions provides such an opportunity.
Bratina’s announcement capped a term in office that got off to a strong start, with a rapid succession of major issues solved—area rating, the Pan Am Stadium resolution, improved GO service and a long-term labour agreement with civic employees. In more recent years, however, Bratina’s term was marked by strained relations with council over LRT, the Hamilton Waterfront Trust, relations with Queen’s Park and a raise given to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff which resulted in a unanimous censure of Bratina by council .
In making his announcement Bratina confirmed that he has had discussions with the Federal Liberals about a possible candidacy in Hamilton Centre, the riding now held by NDP’er David Christopherson in 2015, but said “many conversations will have to take place” before he would make a final decision about a jump to federal politics. Several other members of city council have been eyeing federal politics as well. Dundas Councillor Russ Powers and Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, are mentioned as possible contenders for the new riding in Ancaster that has been created by redistribution. Councillors Terry Whitehead and Chad Collins are also believed to be considering their political options.