Coun. Pa­suta en­dorses Vito Sgro for mayor

West Flam­bor­ough coun­cil­lor up­set Mayor Eisen­berger didn’t fight to re­tain ru­ral Ward 14

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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

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