Council Sticks Together No Matter What, With the Exception of Brad Clark

CityBlocs.ca graphic (Used under CC-BY-NC-SA license)CityBlocs.ca graphic (Used under CC-BY-NC-SA license)

Hamilton City Council loves a unanimous vote, and will go to great lengths to find unanimity on issues. When they can’t find agreement, they will often defer a decision to avoid the appearance of a divide on Council.

A group of Ph.Ds in Calgary have launched a site analyzing municipal politics at www.cityblocs.ca and have looked at Hamilton’s limited Council voting data and found our Council has only one lone wolf – Ward 9 Councillor and mayoral candidate Brad Clark.

There relationship graph found our Council is a cluster with Clark out on his own.

Clark v. Council on Morrow Appointment

An example of this phenomenon was the recent appointment of former Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow as the replacement Ward 3 Councillor following the death of Ward 3 Councillor Bernie Morelli.

In a blatantly anti-transparent move, members of Council reached a backroom deal to appoint Morrow to Council without any public process or interview process. While not disputing the qualifications of Mr. Morrow (who is doing an excellent job for the record), the funeral of a recently deceased City Councillor is not the appropriate forum for deciding who will fill the vacancy.

Initially, at Standing Committee, Council unanimously endorsed the appointment. Before the unanimous vote, numerous Councillors expressed their discomfort with the process, citing how it violated the spirit of democracy, but always concluded by saying they would vote in favour regardless – lest Council appear divided on the issue.

Days later, one Councillor decided to stand on their principle and voted against the appointment. The result a 14-1 vote with Councillor Brad Clark the loan dissenter. He is criticized by other members of Council for breaking ranks, including some rather vicious attacks off microphone. Nonetheless, Clark held his ground.

Opportunity for Clark on Campaign Trail

Clark’s individualism can be used on the campaign trail to position himself as an “outsider” candidate who can reform City Hall with the benefit of his Council experience. It can be an Achilles’ heel as well, if his opponents position his differing positions with Council’s unanimity as a obstacle to his being able to achieve an agenda as Mayor.

The data collected by CityBlocs.ca only confirmed what we already knew about Clark, he’s an independent thinker who is not swayed – rightly or wrongly – from his principles by peer pressure.

Clark’s presence in the Mayoral race will be felt. His campaign manager is one of the best local political thinkers, it will be interesting to see how Clark positions himself and if he plays his voing record to an “outsider” narrative.

Visit CityBlocs.ca for More

The team behind CityBlocs.ca is a talented group of people. Take a look at voting patterns for other municipalities across Canada and keep an eye on their site, I expect we’ll see some interesting insights from them this year.

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