By: Waleed Aslam
Why did Hamiltonians elect a mayor they once kicked out?
On Oct. 27, Hamiltonians cast their ballot and chose their old mayor as their new mayor. Eisenberger previously served as mayor from 2006-2010. Although it did not come as a surprise to many of us, Fred’s victory is interesting because it came at the cost of a former defeat.
Why is it that Fred Eisenberger was voted in again with a 43.1 percent of the vote? I cannot analyze this question from every Hamiltonian’s perspective, but as a young adult, I can speculate as to why Fred was an eligible candidate.
The stress that Fred places on transforming Hamilton into a thriving community is critical to young Hamiltonians looking for professional work in their city. With two world-renowned educational facilities in our backyard, Hamilton is producing accomplished graduates. A majority of the students attending McMaster University and Mohawk College are from different parts of Canada and the world, but we also have a very large number of local students.
Many of these local students are forced to travel to Toronto and even relocate there for work. Although mayoral candidates did not outline a concrete plan to address this issue in their platforms, Fred demonstrated an understanding of the dire need for new jobs and lines of work in Hamilton that allow us young adults the choice to stay and work in our city.
Local students are aware that poverty is a very real concern here. I visit downtown Hamilton every day in my commute to McMaster and see underprivileged and homeless people roaming the streets. As students struggling in our own right, our future is also uncertain. This is why most of us opposed the gentrification process offered by Bob Bratina because we did not believe in blaming the poor for their poverty. Hence, we connected with Fred’s vision on the need for community driven initiatives to reduce poverty, along with government strategies.
Fred also promised to introduce e-democracy and online voting. This spoke to many students who find it hard to make time for voting amidst midterms and assignments. Nevertheless, the real struggle will still be to engage young students in politics, especially municipal politics.
With the lowest municipal voter turnout Hamilton has ever seen, online, mail-in and telephone voting seem all the more pressing, especially since neighboring towns already have such systems in place. We can only hope that Hamiltonians, young and old alike, rediscover the drive necessary to involve themselves in civic responsibilities and the pride to carry Hamilton in their hearts once again.
Fred Eisenberger’s greatest achievement will not come from solving all the on-going material issues that every city constantly struggles with. His greatest victory will be found in lifting the morale of Hamiltonians and nurturing their hope for this beautiful city.