Hamilton Mayor says he won’t seek re-election amid speculation Horwath could run

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he will not be seeking another term in office.

Eisenberger said in a statement Monday that it is “time to move onto the next chapter of his life” after three terms in office and that means his name will not be on the ballot come October.

“I have always done my best for the people of Hamilton, and as much as I have loved serving as your mayor, doing my best now requires that I not put my name on the ballot in the 2022 municipal election,” Eisenberger said in the statement.

Eisenberger said he came to the decision while walking through his old neighbourhood in Amsterdam, realizing that he had “come a long way literally and figuratively.”

“I have enjoyed every step of the journey. But now is the time for the journey to go in another direction,” he said.

He noted that while he has the energy and the drive for the job today, he is closing in on 70 and that may not be the case in a few years from now.

“The people of Hamilton deserve one hundred percent all the time, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and I don’t know any other way of doing it. The decision suddenly became easy,” he said.

Eisenberger said he does not have any plans yet but he does not intend on a “traditional retirement.”

He called it a “privilege” to have worked with the city’s professional staff and said the job taught him to expect the unexpected.

He recalled that on his first day in office he had to contend with a heavy rainstorm which threatened to flood parts of the city. More recently, he had to steer Hamilton through more than two years of a global pandemic.

Looking back on his time in office he said he hopes that he has been able to make a mark when it comes to a number of issues such as downtown redevelopment, affordable housing, revitalizing the city’s waterfront, and public transit.

HORWATH ‘NOT READY’ TO MAKE ANNOUNCEMENT

Eisenberger’s announcement comes just months before the nomination period closes in the municipal election. There has been some speculation that Andrea Horwath, who recently announced that she would step down as Ontario NDP leader following her party’s latest election loss, might throw her hat in for a mayoral run in Hamilton.

In a statement released Monday, Horwath said “I’m humbled that Fred considers me a strong candidate for mayor of our great city” in response to public comments Eisenberger made as to who else might make a good mayor.

She said she has a “serious responsibility” in front of her still as the MPP for Hamilton Centre and that she is “committed to doing everything possible to support a successful transition to an interim NDP Leader,” but she didn’t rule out a run.

“I’m not ready today to make any announcements about Hamilton’s municipal election. But I can tell you that my heart is always in Hamilton,” Horwath said.

So far three people have officially thrown their names in to run for mayor: former mayor and Liberal MP Robert Bratina, former mayoral candidate and taxi union head Ejaz Butt, and former Hamilton Chamber of Commerce CEO Keanin Loomis.

The deadline to register to run is Aug. 19 and voters head to the polls on Oct. 24. 

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