The Hamilton Spectator
Loomis lands post with Ontario chamber
Mayoral candidate ‘excited’ about new job; ‘no regrets’ about election run that came up short
Former Hamilton mayoral candidate Keanin Loomis has landed a job with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
He starts his post as vice-president of member services for the provincial organization on Wednesday.
In his new role, Loomis takes a page from his experience as president and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m really excited to expand the scope to a more provincial level and to be able to help all the local chambers across the province, which will be really cool.”
Loomis, 48, stepped down as local chamber leader in March after nine years on the job to run as a rookie mayoral candidate.
The first to register a bid to replace outgoing mayor Fred Eisenberger, the married father of three ran on a platform promising change, transparency and innovation free of partisan baggage.
The lawyer by training and his team orchestrated a spirited campaign packed with events, announcements and citywide doorknocking.
But he fell just short of victory, with Andrea Horwath, a longtime Ontario NDP leader and local MPP, edging him for the chain of office.
The narrow loss — after so much time, effort and risk expended on the hustings — dealt a tremendous blow.
“So you’re dealing with all that emotional baggage while also trying to determine what your future looks like.”
But “time heals all wounds,” he says, adding his only Plan B was to to exit the Oct. 24 vote with his “integrity intact.”
After his wager for the mayor’s chair — leaving a well-paid, steady job; incurring debt; sacrificing time with his family — Loomis says he understands why some eschew running for office.
“And I think it continues to breed cynicism when only the most political or those with the biggest name recognition are the ones that continue to get elected even if they don’t do anything to deserve it over the course of the campaign itself.”
Despite the loss, Hamilton’s hotly contested mayoral race shone a regional spotlight on his leadership qualities throughout the campaign, Loomis points out.
Ontario chamber president and CEO Rocco Rossi says he saw that potential in the candidate, who was already a “star” in board of trade circles.
“I think spending several months having to organize a citywide campaign and deal with media and multiple stakeholders and complicated issues (and nearly winning) just showed additional depths to his character and his abilities.”
The new vice-president takes on a “very important leadership role” with a portfolio of clients that includes 157 local chambers and more than 250 direct corporate and organizational members, Rossi noted.
Loomis, who is also on the Hamilton-Ottawa Port Authority board, notes his chamber role will involve offering members support on communications, board development and strategic management.
“It’s more important than ever, especially during economic downturns, for the business community here in Ontario to have a strong advocate at Queen’s Park.”
As for another stab at politics, Loomis says parties courted him after the municipal election, but it wasn’t the right time.
“I had to get back to being employed. I’m really excited to be focused on my new job at the (Ontario Chamber of Commerce) and serving the Ontario business community.”
And that “coin-flip shot” at the mayor’s office that didn’t land in his favour?
“I would take that every single time,” says Loomis, noting many have buoyed him with words of encouragement since Oct. 24. “I have no regrets. The process itself was just so incredible.”
And I think it continues to breed cynicism when only the most political or those with the biggest name recognition are the ones that continue to get elected.