A little story first: Growing up as a kid, I saw myself become a weatherman or sports statistican. At age 6, I started reading both the weather forecast and sports section of The Hamilton Spectator every day. I can’t remember when I caught the political bug, but as many of you know, I’ve had it for a long time. In 1997, I started serving on Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board committees. In 2000, I ran in the municipal election for School Board Trustee. Today, I endulge the bug as a journalist.
Maybe I should have stuck to weather, heaven knows it’s easy to predict a hurricane than the Hamilton election. I should probably leave it there, but I won’t. I’m going to dare make predictions with the full knowledge that I’m likely to get some wrong and wear it for the next four years.
The mood of voters in Hamilton is much like the development cycle of a hurricane, sometimes it peaks way offshore and makes landfall as little much than a long afternoon thunderstorm.
The rage of Hamilton voters was a category 5 hurricane back in August and September. The storm peaked when it was learned that Ward 9 Councillor Brad Clark skipped the important August 10th Pan Am stadium vote in favour of attending a Michael Buble concert in Toronto.
The anti-incumbency storm remains, but does it still have power? To be honest, I don’t know. I think it will be a factor, but only in a few races.
Brad McHattie is facing off against Tony Greco again. In 2006, McHattie beat Greco with nearly double the votes at 5,068. Greco has increased his sign count this race, but most of those signs are appears on small businesses. Small businesses do not translate into voters.
The big ballot in this race will be Ward 2 where 20 people are on the ballot for the seat left open by Bratina’s run for mayor.
I’m predicting Matt Jelly will run this race tonight with a recount to follow. Jelly’s name recognition combined with a large base of volunteers will be the divisive factor in his favour. Jelly’s tireless activism prior to the election, combined with a well managed campaign have propelled him to be the most visible candidate in this race.
Voter turnout in this ward will be high with numerous campaigns conducting “get out the vote” operations. Advance poll turnout was lower than the city average. I sum this up to people being undecided about their choices and waiting until this weekend to make up their mind.
**Bernie Morelli **looked vunerable last month. The Pearl Company issue appears to be sticking to him. His opponents, however, have not run strong enough campaigns to knock this long sitting incumbent from his seat. Morelli will survive unless the anti-incumbent mood is much stronger than anyone has detected.
Anti-stadium crusader **Sam Merulla **could have run for mayor this year and won. People are angry about the stadium and he’s that anger personified.
Considering Merulla’s previous attempts to run for “higher office” (aka the NDP nomination in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek), he must be disappointed that he didn’t foresee how bad the Pan Am fiasco would become. This was his year to run for mayor and he missed.
Let’s called his run the “Mother of all focused in the wrong direction priorities.” Okay, I can’t invent good media soundbites – thankfully, Merulla will take care of that for the next four years.
Having been out in Ward 5 numerous times during this race, this being the Ward I ran for Trustee back in 2000, I can’t help but shake a gut feeling that Jaswinder Bedi could upset long seated Chad Collins.
Bedi will capture the Riverdale community easily. Voter moblization will be high in this community. Collins will lose some votes to Frank Rukavina in the southern reaches of the riding. Combined with an anti-Pan Am fiasco backlash against Collins, my gut says Bedi by a hair. (More on this race here: #HamOnt Votes 2010: Is Chad Collins facing a serious challenge?)
**Tom Jackson **will return to his council seat. He’ll capture more than 50% of the vote again this time.
An honourable mention for Chris Behrens whom I’ve met a few times out on the campaign trail. Let’s hope he (and many of the other candidates) secure a seat on a citizen committee to contribute over the next four years.
**Scott Duvall **will barely hold onto his seat.
**Terry Whitehead **will return to Council for another term. Between him and Merulla, let’s hope the mayor enforces five minute speaking limits this time.
Brad Clark will have time to indulge his passion for Michael Buble during the next four years. While Clark has overall been an effective Councillor, his mistake August 10th will be the primary factor in making him a lightning rod for anti-incumbent anger.
Advance voter turnout in his ward is up more than 50%, never a good sign for an incumbent Councillor, meaning people have made up their minds well in advance of today’s voting day.
I predict Geraldine McMullen will be taking the keys to the office in 71 Main St W.
**Maria Pearson **will continue to represent the other Stoney Creek seat.
An honourable mention for Bernard Josipovic whom I’ve met a few times out on the campaign trail. Let’s hope he (and many of the other candidates) secure a seat on a citizen committee to contribute over the next four years.
Ethics-challenged incumbent Dave Mitchell survived his 2005 breach and was reelected in 2006. Advance voter turnout in Ward 11 is up over 50%. Getting supporters to advance polls is one of the skills Brenda Johnston campaign manager Stu Beattie is a master at achieving. (He’s also managed to secure Spectator coverage of the campaign – something that’s nearly impossible to achieve)
Brenda Johnston will spend the next four years taking the long drive to City Hall.
The **Lloyd Ferguson **of Ancaster’s political dynasty will continue his tenure at City Hall.
**Russ Powers **will continue his political career at City Hall.
The hardest prediction of the night. **Robert Pasuta **is acclaimed. One of these most effective Councillors, Hamilton’s lucky to have him taking time away from his farm to listen to other Councillors enjoy the sounds of their own voices.
Former Spectator community relations manager **Judi Partridge **will represent the growing communities of Ward 15.