Longtime Ancaster councillor won’t run in Hamilton municipal election

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Published July 21, 2022 at 12:08 pm

While proud of standing on his bottom line-minded principles, Coun. Lloyd Ferguson included a parting shot in announcing his retirement from elected politics.

On Thursday morning, the longtime Ancaster representative announced he will not be running in Ward 12, which he has represented since 2006. Ferguson did not name anyone specifically, but said “special interest groups” have grated on him over the past term. He added that he made up his mind to move on around Christmastime last winter, but held off on making an announcement in order to stay focused on some local civic initiatives, such as the nearly completed Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre where he made the announcement.

“It’s a tough time to be an elected person in Hamilton,” Ferguson said in a media conference streamed live by CHCH-TV. “There’s a lot of people coming after you. And what really bothered me was the special interest groups that would put out misinformation, and I don’t know how to manage that. I don’t look at social media, but it could be nasty also. So I wish whoever my successor is well, because that is going to be a difficult part of the job.

“But I’ve known for roughly six months that it’s time.”

Ferguson is the sixth elected representative on the 16-seat city council who is not running in the Oct. 24 municipal election. Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Couns. Brenda Johnson (Ward 11), Sam Merulla (4), Judi Partridge (15) and Russ Powers (5) are also not running. (Powers was appointed in Ward 5 last fall after Chad Collins was elected to federal Parliament.)

In the last year or so, a grassroots group called IELECT Hamilton has been advocating to elect councillors with progressive and less pro-development views. (In November, it stated that 76% of respondents to a survey were dissatisfied with the leadership in Hamilton.)

On Twitter, IELECT Hamilton co-founder Graham Crawford made note of Ferguson’s decision.

“(Another) member of the Old Guard is retiring,” Crawford wrote.

Ferguson, who has represented one of the more affluent suburban areas of Hamilton, said he was proud of being a hard-liner during the municipal budgeting processing phase every year.

“I worked hard for all 16 years to keep the (municipal) budget increases to within the rate of inflation, and I’m proud that that’s been done,” he said. “I’ve been nicknamed by my council colleagues as ‘Frugal Fergie’ ’cause I kept driving costs all the time, but that’s my background in the private sector. It’s contrary to the ambitions of some of my colleagues, but we got it done.

“I want to thank the residents of Ancaster for putting their trust in me for so many years and making Ancaster a great place to live, work and play.”

The arts centre was among the civic developments that Ferguson said he is pleased have become reality in recent years in his ward. Theatre Ancaster is slated to have their debut performance there in in early September. He also pointed to the redevelopment of Ancaster Square, the repurposing of the Tisale House heritage building into the Hamilton Police Museum, and the expansion of several recreational facilities.

‘Kennedys of Ancaster’

Ferguson was a school board trustee, and a councillor in Ancaster before it became part of Hamilton through amalgamation in 1998. Taking a high-level position at a national construction firm led to him leaving elected politics for a stretch before he got elected in Hamilton in ’06. Between himself, his brother and their parents, the line of serving in elected office in Ancaster stretches to the 1950s.

“For 67 years, our family has held an elected position without interruption in Ancaster,” he said. “It is kind of sad for me that it is ending this way. I regularly get told that our family is the Kennedys of Ancaster, and even the Kennedy era eventually came to an end. We’re at that point in the family participation in politics in Ancaster.

“Ancaster is a place people aspire to move to… I’m proud of that, and I want you to know it did not happen by accident,” he said.

The outgoing councillor also acknowledged longtime Ward 12 executive assistant Kathy Bishop, who is retiring at year’s end after 32 years on the job.

Ward 12 has four nominated candidates: Craig Cassar, Karl Hanley, Megg Markettos and Robert Maton. The deadline to fill is at 2 p.m. on Aug. 19, which is 29 days away.

“Thank you, Councillor Ferguson, for your many years of service on City Council representing Ancaster,” Cassar wrote on Twitter. “I wish you well in your retirement and know you will cherish the additional time spent with family.”

Eight councillors, or half of the horseshoe at city hall, are registered for re-election. Couns. Jason Farr and Terry Whitehead (wards 2 and 14) are the only two who have not formally filed, nor made an announcement about their plans.

Farr has already had one campaign this year after running for the Ontario Liberal Party in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek in the provincial election last month. He finished third with 21 per cent support, about 13½ points behind the Ontario PC Party’s Neil Lumsden, who has been appointed the province’s minister of sport.

Whitehead told a Hamilton newspaper this spring he would run again in Ward 14. On June 22, amidst his colleagues voting to dock his pay after an integrity commissioner report found evidence that Whitehead had bullied Partridge and two city employees, he said he would be taking a medical leave for the rest of the term.

Meantime, Ferguson said that he plans to volunteer in the Ancaster community, and possibly serve on some local committes.

“My family’s biggest fear is I’m going to be bored, but I intend to be involved and also get some ‘me time’ going,” he said.

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