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This election is sure to be a fight

Jim Knisley, Eye on the County
Published on Aug 24, 2010

The Sachem

"Are you ready to rumble?" Those words used to and may still be used to announce the next wrestling match, but seem appropriate for Haldimand's fast approaching municipal election.

Most of the candidates have registered or announced their intent to enter the fray and no seat will go uncontested.

The entire current council has declared their intent to run. The only change among the incumbents is that current councillor Buck Sloat is taking on Mayor Marie Trainer for the top job.

Caledonia businessman Ken Hewitt is adding spice to the mayor's race making it a three-way competition. But there are still two-and-a-half weeks for more candidates to sign up.

And anyone who thinks competing with three high profile candidates is an exercise in futility should look at what happened in South Carolina.

Down there in a primary election to determine who would be the Democratic candidate for the Senate a complete unknown put his name on the ballot.

His only promises were not to campaign and not to spend any money on a campaign.

Given that he had no money and no visible support the promises were reasonable. The only thing he had going for him was that he was alphabetically endowed and his name was first on the ballot.

After the polls closed and the votes were counted he and everyone else was shocked to discover that the unknown had won.

The lesson in this is that if your name happens to be something like Aaron Aardvark you may as well get your name on the top of the ballot because you never know what might happen.

Meanwhile, in Haldimand, the race for the councillors' chairs is getting more interesting by the day.

Gary McHale's announcement that he plans to register as a candidate ensures that Caledonia will likely generate most of the headlines particularly in media based outside the county.

The reasons for this are obvious.

Media in Toronto, Hamilton and elsewhere recognize the name McHale particularly when it is tied to Caledonia.

But if name recognition was the be all and end all in elections the guy in South Carolina wouldn't have won.

The three other candidates for the Caledonia seat include incumbent Craig Grice (who it will be recalled took out a long-serving incumbent last election) and has carried a high profile on council for the last four years.

Also seeking election are Bryan Barker and Rob Duncan.

Ward 2 also looks to be a bit of a donnybrook with three candidates Neale Armstrong of Fisherville, Rick Beale of Cayuga and Ray Hunsinger of the Selkirk area looking to fill the chair Buck Sloat is leaving.

The remaining seats are all two horse races so far. But candidates have until September 10 to register.

In Ward 1, in the southwest corner of the county, Leroy Bartlett, who was first elected four years ago, is being challenged by Stewart Patterson of Jarvis.

In Ward 4, Wilrik Banda is taking on long-serving incumbent Tony Dalimonte.

Don Ricker is seeking re-election in Ward 5 and is being challenged by Rob Shirton.

And in Ward 6 Lorne Boyko, who has announced he will run, is being challenged by Donna Pitcher.

In municipal elections the conventional wisdom is that you put your money on the incumbents.

They have name recognition, usually a solid base of support (if they didn't they wouldn't be incumbents) and knowledge of the issues.

But in the last Haldimand election two incumbents were taken down and others faced stiff challenges.

This time around the election will result in at least one new face at the table and perhaps more than one.