Bratina NOT seeking second term as Mayor of Hamilton

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina made official the rumours that he will not seek a second term as Mayor of Hamilton. He did not confirm rumours that he is seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Hamilton Centre.

Bratina will not rule out running for the federal Liberals, telling CHML’s Bill Kelly that he’s had discussions with Justin Trudeau when the Liberal leader was in Hamilton.

Listen to the full interview on CHML’s Soundcloud page:

Full Statement as Released by Bratina:

I’ve had the honour and privilege of being the mayor of one of Canada’s great cities, the City in which I was born, the city I love, Hamilton Ontario. By any measure this term of office has been a tremendous success, one of the most productive in the modern history of Hamilton. At the time I became mayor there was no site approved for the Pan Am Stadium nor was there sufficient funding in place. Council was completely split on the issue of area rating, the taxation imbalances that resulted from amalgamation.

McMaster had changed its plans to locate a medical school in the downtown core. There was no firm commitment by the Province on GO Train service to a new railway station at James Street North. We faced difficult contract negotiations with our public service unions and had not reached agreement to proceed with the Randle Reef project which would clean up contamination in the harbor. All of these issues were resolved in short order, and with overwhelming support by Council, and tireless professionalism by staff.

Our union agreement as an example avoided a strike, set the pattern for the entire province and gave us four years of labour peace. We’ve just concluded a 20 year lease with the Tiger Cats which by all accounts is the best deal ever between the team and the City. Of course there were many fractious debates along the way but we as a Council always came together with good decisions for the people of Hamilton.

This Council also got a handle on the problem of steadily increasing property taxes. As we began the term I suggested an approach I called “Zero Sustainable” which meant keeping tax increases as close as possible to zero, without impacting on the level of service our residents expected. The position statement I created going into contract talks with our unionized work force was Fair Compensation, No loss of services, Zero tax Impact. With this year’s budget we will have averaged the Second lowest tax increase of all large Ontario Cities….about 1.5 per cent per year.

That’s lower than inflation, and the lowest since the New City of Hamilton was created. I have tried to lead by example in respecting the tax-payer. My office spent less money than any mayor since amalgamation, averaging 30 per cent less than the council-approved budget, a total of about one and a half million dollars savings over the term and on an annual basis lower than any mayor’s office in the past 14 years. I have devoted the past ten years of my life to the service of my city. In that time I have never missed a council meeting. My last real vacation was a trip to Europe in 2004.

All of this has required some sacrifice by myself, but as well by my remarkable staff and of course my wife and family. I believe that ten years of public service should show tangible positive results, and I honestly feel that I have achieved, with council, significant benefits for our residents.

With all this in mind I have decided I will not stand for re-election as mayor of the City of Hamilton. I will leave City Hall at the end of this term knowing that I am passing on to the next mayor a city that has turned the corner and regained its confidence. We are a city on the rise and positioned to regain the prominence among Canadian cities we once enjoyed.

My only regrets involve my wonderful staff who have worked so efficiently, effectively and economically for the residents of Hamilton, and those other individuals within City Hall who provided the support and encouragement I needed to meet the objectives I had set for myself and for the City. There is still much to do before the end of this term which will keep me busy as mayor.

We have to conclude the 2014 budget process, and press senior levels of government for infrastructure funding. There is also urgency around the transportation of dangerous goods through our neighbourhoods. My decision today will allow me to give my full attention to the demands on the office of mayor without the distraction of an election campaign.

What the future holds remains to be seen.