A new poll from a grassroots campaign highlighting the good and the bad of Hamilton’s leadership suggests the city has a “crisis” of authority, yet residents seem to agree with what they have.
The iELECT 24-question survey with 23 statements on Hamilton’s infrastructure, economy, leadership, environment, community and transportation gathered more than 2,000 respondents over three months and Buy and Large showed “strong levels of dissatisfaction” with those responsible.
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“Particularly harsh results include strong dissatisfaction with the lack of affordable housing, a lack of care and action to protect the environment, as well as a significant level of dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency, accountability and openness from municipal leaders. , ”Said Dr. Ameil Joseph of McMaster University in a statement in the middle of the exam’s release.
The 62-page report showed that 92 percent of those surveyed did their due diligence and voted in the 2018 election.
The potentially sobering news for current city politicians could be how many of those voters, 76 percent, were dissatisfied in the six areas they responded to.
IELECT co-founder Graham Crawford told the CHML 900 Bill Kelly Show that unhappiness with city government was fairly consistent across the 15 districts with no real “hot spots”.
The ‘Leadership’ category is where the city’s mental confidence took the biggest beating, with more than 90 percent of respondents unhappy with transparency, accountability and how their tax dollars have been spent.
Of the few positive responses in the study, residents agreed with the city’s ‘Infrastructure’, giving more than passing grades on year-round maintenance, street safety, and condition of parks, roads, and sidewalks.
“They are more satisfied or more satisfied, relatively speaking, with the difficult things: the roads, the parks and the sidewalks,” Crawford said.
“People feel much better about it than they do with the quality of leadership.”
Crawford admits that residents of Districts 1, 2, and 3 account for the bulk of all responses in the survey, 50 percent.
District 1 (Chedoke-Cootes area) had the most of the more than 2,000 in the survey, 15.39 percent.
District 9 (Upper Stoney Creek) had the fewest numbers at just 1.94 percent.
However, he says the methodology is similar to what city staff typically use in their public surveys.
“If you go online and fill it in, this is exactly the same methodology that was used to clear the snow,” Crawford said.
The average of all topics showed that Ward 2 Downtown respondents represented the least satisfied in the city, with 81 percent generally dissatisfied.
District 11 had the highest satisfaction numbers, with 34 percent responding generally positive to the survey.
Respondents from District 11 (Glanbrook) accounted for the city’s best voter turnout in the 2018 election, 96.56 percent. District 3 (Hamilton Center) had the lowest at 88.28 percent.
Crawford says that overall the message is that people seem to agree on what city funds are being spent on in terms of infrastructure, but not on the quality of decisions, innovation, and the extent to which that the council generally listens to the needs and opinions of others.
“They see these things in their neighborhood, their 10-block radius, and they’re pretty happy with it, but they don’t like the tax bill they get every year,” Crawford said.
“I mean, who do you blame for that or who do you hold responsible for that? I think you hold your leaders accountable for that. “
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More than 1,000 respondents also provided written comments, which is set to constitute a much more in-depth second report from iELECT and its association with McMaster’s Research Shop.
“So they’re going to do a deep analysis because we have zip codes for each of the respondents, so we can do this by neighborhood,” Crawford said.
McMaster associate professor of political science Peter Graefe says he’s a bit surprised that 2,000 people completed the survey, but not so much that respondents took the view that there is a “crisis” in the city.
Graefe suggests that the poll could be an indication that there are more proactive groups, such as iELECT, who want a change in the council compared to previous election cycles.
He went on to say that recent events like the handling of a 24 billion gallon sewage spill or the integrity commissioner’s investigation involving a mountain councilor are probably not helping.
“I think there is a building up feeling that city councilors are just comfortable with the way they are doing things and that probably has long-term negative impacts.”
iELECT expects residents to read and take the survey results seriously before the October 2022 municipal elections, potentially voting on a crop of new candidates for council positions.
“For those who decide to go and cast their votes, to cast informed votes, not just … votes based on … the familiarity of an incumbent,” Crawford said.
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