Saying his “mantra is economic development with sustainability,” former mayor Fred Eisenberger is in the race for Hamilton mayor for the 4th time. His entry into the mayoralty contest had been all but assured for several months. “I’m not done yet,” the candidate declared, “I’ve had a chance to gain some perspective (over the past four years) and from my time at the Canadian Urban Institute.” He cited the current infrastructure deficit as a priority for him, suggesting that Hamilton may have to make some investments even if the senior governments are slow to pony up. “We can find some of it in efficiencies,” he said, “I believe there is still room for finding efficiencies and applying the savings to infrastructure.”
Despite the acknowledged infrastructure shortfall, Eisenberger still thinks LRT is critical to Hamilton. “We need to have more cost-benefit analysis,” he said. “The province will spend it somewhere, so why not here?” Asked about last week’s leaked budget document which referenced a possible LRT for Hamilton, Eisenberger said he had not discussed LRT with Transportation Minister Glen Murray, but said he hoped to talk to the minister soon. “He and I are both urbanists, and we are pretty much on the same page.”
Asked if he had concerns about splitting the progressive vote with Candidate Brian McHattie, Eisenberger pointed to some differences between them. “I am supportive of the Airport Employment Growth District, and I am proud to drive on the Red Hill Expressway,” he said in a reference to McHattie’s statement earlier that he was still boycotting the road he opposed for more than two decades.
The candidate says he thinks the idea that Hamilton Council is fractious is more a media perception than reality. “Council is the place where debate takes place, but not the place for acrimonious debate,” he said.
Fred Eisenberger was first elected to Hamilton City Council in 1991 in a tough 4-way battle in Ward 5 that saw him nose out council veterans Reg Wheeler and Fred Lombado. It was an election that saw a number of council stalwarts defeated. He remained on council until 2000, when he ran for mayor for the first time, finishing third in a crowded race. He then was appointed to the Hamilton Port Authority, becoming Chair, but registered as a mayoral candidate in the 2003 election. In August of 2003 he withdrew from the race which became a showdown over the Red Hill Expressway between Larry DiIanni, the eventual victor, and Dave Christopherson. In 2006, Eisenberger was finally three –time lucky capturing the mayoralty from Di Ianni by less than 400 votes. The 2010 election was set to be a re-match between Di Ianni and Eisenberger, but Bob Bratina entered the race and rode a wave of popular support, based on a lengthy broadcasting career, to victory. With Bratina’s withdrawal, some are wondering if this race might become the Eisenberger-DiIanni rubber match of sorts.