Hamilton City Hall's west wing Credit: Joey Coleman

Talent is leaving Hamilton’s municipal government, while at the same time, the City cannot attract qualified applicants for key positions.

GM of Planning and Economic Development Jason Thorne left in March. Now well-regarded Director of Government and Community Relations Morgan Stahl is leaving at the end of this week.

Due to the two-month-old cybersecurity failure, the City is not posting job vacancies or seeking to fill positions.

The City is also struggling to attract candidates for essential positions.

For eight months, Hamilton has been trying to recruit a new City Clerk & Director of Legislative Services. In other municipalities, this job attracts dozens of qualified candidates. Even with higher-than-average pay, the City of Hamilton’s terrible reputation keeps good people away.

Finding a replacement for Stahl will be even more challenging. Government relations is about relationships in Toronto and Ottawa—nobody at Hamilton City Hall has them, and good luck attracting external candidates to join a municipal administration that appears destined to be defeated in the 2026 municipal election.

Shuffles in the Mayor’s Office

This brings us to Mayor Andrea Horwath’s office staffing. Chief of Staff Kara McLean and Deputy Chief of Staff Siri Agrell completed their contracts and left for other opportunities.

Uzma Qureshi is acting as Chief of Staff.

Turnover in these political positions is common. Working for Hamilton’s mayor should be a stepping stone for political staffers.

However, we do have a problem in Hamilton—the mayor’s office budget does not provide adequate salaries to attract and retain qualified people for these complex roles.

HSR senior project manager transit customer experience Amanda Kinnaird is now seconded to the mayor’s office to run communications. Kinnaird was Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s communications advisor from 2014 until 2018, when she joined the HSR as a permanent city staff member.

The secondment allows for some creative accounting. However, the solution is for the council to increase the mayor’s budget to an amount which acknowledges the City of Hamilton is no longer a backwater; it is a complex municipality that needs a mayor with the resources to lead and tackle major issues.

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Published: April 24, 2024
Last updated: April 24, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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1 Comment

  1. If you can survive in Hamilton, you can thrive anywhere. Best place to raise a child y’know.
    We need less local government enmity to not just train, but retain, talent here. It isn’t just $$$. It’s respect.
    Our contribution to the national talent pool is legendary. Our ability to utilize and honour the talent we have while it’s here, sadly, also is.

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