Coun. Pasuta endorses Vito Sgro for mayor
West Flamborough councillor upset Mayor Eisenberger didn’t fight to retain rural Ward 14
In a move ringing with political reverberations, longtime west Flamborough Coun. Robert Pasuta has endorsed Vito Sgro for mayor.
“As a rural resident myself, I believe we deserve a mayor who will respect Flamborough, support agriculture and the rural way of life,” Pasuta said in a statement, adding he and his family will vote for Sgro on Oct. 22.
Pasuta, who has represented Ward 14 for 12 years, decided not to seek re-election after the Ontario Municipal Board eliminated the sparsely-populated all-rural ward and divided it between Ancaster and Dundas.
A farmer himself, Pasuta is critical of Mayor Fred Eisenberger for not supporting his motion last December to appeal the board decision.
The motion lost 8-7 and some rural residents, who positioned Eisenberger as casting the deciding vote, suggested he could pay a political price during his re-election bid. Pasuta’s endorsement of Sgro obviously fits that bill.
Eisenberger previously said he voted against the appeal because of the estimated $50,000 cost and because he supports greater voter parity per ward. But Pasuta remains disappointed with his leadership. “The fact is he was mayor for the whole city of Hamilton … and he should have supported my appeal,” he said in an interview.
Sgro says he’s “thrilled” with Pasuta’s support.
“First of all, having an endorsement of a fine gentleman like that is important as it is, but let’s be quite frank, politically it’s large because people trust Robert and I hope I can earn their trust like he did.”
Sgro says if elected, he intends to hire a full-time person in the mayor’s office to deal with rural and agricultural interests.
Pasuta also supports Sgro’s proposal to cancel LRT — “I think it’s a total waste.”— and use the $1 billion for express buses and repairing infrastructure.
On Friday, local Conservative MPP Donna Skelly waded back into the issue with a media statement reconfirming Premier Doug Ford’s commitment to let Hamilton use $1 billion earmarked for LRT for other projects.
“Yesterday I spoke directly with the premier,” Skelly emailed. “We discussed the $1 billion commitment, and the Premier once again confirmed that the $1 billion funding can be spent on infrastructure, infrastructure and transit, or solely on LRT.”
Whether Pasuta’s endorsement has an impact at the ballot box is uncertain. But plainly many candidates believe endorsements help garner support because they’re cropping up across the city.
Eisenberger has a trainload of ex-politicians and community players lining up behind him. They include former MPP Ted McMeekin, former mayors Larry Di Ianni and Bob Wade, former Flamborough mayor Don Granger, former CHCH host Connie Smith, and urban activist Graham Crawford.
But the endorsement received by Ward 1 candidate Jason Allen — who’s up against 11 other hopefuls seeking to replace Coun. Aidan Johnson — arguably takes the cake.
Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi, a superstar among urban progressives, has endorsed Allen’s candidacy via a video posted on Allen’s social media accounts.
Nenshi describes Allen, who works for the Canadian Urban Transit Association, as “unbelievably smart” and “unbelievably committed to community.”
According to Allen, he and Nenshi have known each other since grade school. They lost contact in high school, reconnected in university and have stayed in touch ever since.
“The endorsement has been huge for me,” says Allen, noting it’s been viewed thousands of times.
Ward 1 candidate Maureen Wilson is also flaunting the names of high-profile supporters, including Coun. Matthew Green, former police chief Ken Robertson and the aforementioned Wade, Granger and McMeekin.
Interestingly, Wilson’s campaign literature also notes her husband is Terry Cooke, a former Ward 1 councillor and Hamilton Went worth regional chair. As president and CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation, Cooke continues to pack clout both publicly and behind the scenes.
Wilson was chief of staff to Cooke when he was regional chair and then Wade when he was mayor.
The other candidates running in Ward 1 are Sophie Geffros, Linda Narducci, Syed Bakht, Ela Eroglu, Richard Massie, Sharon Elizabeth Cole, Harrison White, Lyla Miklos, Sharon Anderson and Carol Lazich.
Ward 14 councillor Robert Pasuta
Mayoral candidate Vito Sgro
Mayor Fred Eisenberger