Yesterday, Hamiltonians went to the polls to elect a new municipal government and school board trustees.
On behalf of the entire organization, we extend our congratulations to all individuals elected last night – particularly our new mayor elect, Andrea Horwath. This is an especially important moment in our city’s history, as Hamiltonians have elected their first woman mayor in 171 years. Candidates running in the municipal election have worked extremely hard over these past few months, and we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all candidates and volunteer teams for their commitment to running and to making our local democracy stronger.
However – regardless of who will be sitting around the council table for the next four years – our work here at YWCA Hamilton will not change. We remain committed to advocating at all levels of government for equity, inclusion, and diversity within our community. We will continue to encourage our local government to make sustained, meaningful, and lasting investments in housing, employment, child care and other needed supports for women, girls, and gender-diverse people.
As we reflect on this election race, we know that we need to work harder to ensure that there are a diverse range of voices representing our city. This election, less than half of all candidates in both Hamilton and Halton were women or gender-diverse people. Running for municipal government is often more difficult for women than it is for men, due to the increased financial barriers, caregiving responsibilities, and employment precarity that women face. This means that the voices that are already underrepresented at the council table are often excluded from even entering the race to begin with.
This election also saw an increase in hate and harassment toward marginalized groups, in particular racialized candidates, and a disturbing trend that saw so-called “anti-woke” candidates running in school board races in Hamilton and beyond.
This is a reminder that while women, gender-diverse people, and racialized folks have made major strides in terms of political representation, we are currently experiencing a backlash from those intent on preserving the harmful structures of white supremacy and misogyny in our community. As an organization and a community, we need to continue to mobilize to ensure that we amplify the voices of those who can bring their own lived experience, as well as their own values of equity and inclusion, to the conversation.
We encourage all newly elected candidates to consider all Hamiltonians – racialized Hamiltonians, unhoused Hamiltonians, Two Spirit LGBTQIA+ Hamiltonians, Hamiltonians who use drugs, newcomers, seniors, women, girls and gender-diverse people – in your decision-making over the next four years.
We’re counting on you to help make our community a more inclusive, equitable, and safe place for everyone.