Andrea Horwath, the former long-time leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, is running for mayor in her hometown of Hamilton.
Ms. Horwath launched her mayoral bid for the October election outside City Hall Tuesday morning surrounded by supporters, including Hamilton NDP MPP colleagues Monique Taylor and Sandy Shaw.
Having served as leader of the provincial NDP for 13 years, Ms. Horwath stepped down from her post after the June provincial election that saw her party retain Official Opposition status but with less of the popular vote and nine fewer seats in the legislature.
Ms. Horwath said she will be resigning her seat as MPP for Hamilton Centre, which she has held since 2004, to enter the race. She is the first woman to have led the Ontario NDP and one of three women to lead a major political party in Ontario.
Despite being elected in the riding for the sixth time in June’s provincial election, Ms. Horwath said she can better work for the people of Hamilton in the mayor’s chair. Before entering provincial politics, she served on Hamilton city council for seven years, dating back to 1997.
“I really believe my best way now going forward to serve the people of Hamilton Centre, to work for them and achieve for them, is through the mayor’s position,” Ms. Horwath said.
“I’m confident I have a lot of experience, a lot of networks and connections and a great record of hard work and a deep love for this community. I’ve worked for the people of Hamilton for literally my entire life and done so with passion and with pride,” she said.
It’s an open race for the mayor’s chair in Hamilton with incumbent Fred Eisenberger announcing that he’s not running again. He has voiced his support for Ms. Horwath.
Former Hamilton mayor and Liberal MP Bob Bratina, former city chamber of commerce president and chief executive Keanin Loomis and Ontario Taxi Workers Union past president Ejaz Butt have already entered the race.
Ms. Horwath didn’t provide many specifics on her plans, including where she stands on the city’s police budget and homeless encampment response, but said her platform planks will be released leading up to the Oct. 24 vote.
However, she said that, if elected, her main priorities would be to renew the city’s downtown entertainment district, increase the housing supply within the city’s current boundaries and continue building the LRT.
Asked about Premier Doug Ford’s plan to introduce “strong mayor” powers, including a veto, for the province’s cities, Ms. Horwath said she awaits more details on what this will look like but would collaborate with council colleagues no matter what authority the mayor has. Last week, the Premier said the strong-mayor system will first be piloted in Toronto and Ottawa, with the possibility of later expanding to other large cities.
“What I can guarantee you, if I am given the honour to serve as the mayor of our city, is that I will always continue to collaborate, that’s what I do,” she said. “I pull people in, I listen, I create space for folks to have important conversations around where we’re headed and I will never stop doing that regardless of a strong mayor power or not.”
Ms. Horwath’s resignation as MPP will prompt a by-election in Hamilton Centre, which the government will need to call within six months. Ms. Horwath won the NDP stronghold with 57 per cent of the vote in June’s election.
After the announcement, Mr. Ford issued a statement thanking the former NDP leader for her service to the province.
“Let there be no doubt that Andrea wakes up every day ready to fight for what she believes in,” Mr. Ford said.
With an Aug. 19 deadline to register as a candidate in a municipal election, many high-profile figures have filed their nomination papers in recent weeks. Incumbent mayors John Tory in Toronto, Patrick Brown in Brampton and Bonnie Crombie in Mississauga have all entered the race in their respective cities.
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