Vote Dick Carpani for Mayor
  Sarnia Ontario Canada

Mayor Bradley's complaints don't hold water

It's no secret that this newspaper has not always seen eye to eye with Mayor Mike Bradley.

In fact, we've taken him to task for everything from the city's debt load to its crumbling infrastructure.

But have we opposed everything he's done, or tried to do, over the years? In other words, do we automatically oppose him, no matter what he's up to?

The mayor seems to think so. Writing in a weekly publication recently, he said The Observer "usually has their editorial written endorsing one of my opponents even before the nominations close."

Deciding to do a reality check on that statement, I looked up what the paper's editorials have had to say about Bradley during municipal election campaigns.

When he ran first for the position of alderman in 1985, The Observer said, "Among the best of the newcomers are Mike Bradley and Mike Stark. Mr. Bradley is familiar with working on senior government matters thanks to his time spent as executive assistant to former MP Bud Cullen. Mr. Bradley has also been involved politically as a candidate for the federal Liberal party."

Three years later, when he ran for mayor for the first time, The Observer did not endorse any of the candidates. But it did say Bradley "is perhaps the most colourful of the four contestants. He has just completed his first term and at 33 years of age is considered a fast political starter. He has risen to chairman of the large urban section of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and has also served as chairman of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Development Commission.

"Considered a progressive thinker, he's in favour of greenspace but won't vote against a development because it lacks a little."

In other words, while the paper didn't endorse anyone, it was hardly opposed to the idea of Mike Bradley as mayor.

When he sought re-election in 1994, The Observer's pre-election editorial included a headline that read: "Mike Bradley the Best Choice."

While it conceded that challenger Ron Gordon was a strong candidate, the editorial said, "In Mike Bradley voters have a proven commodity. During his past six years in the mayor's chair, councils have held the line on taxes while maintaining services at acceptable levels. The city is in good financial shape, with several million dollars in surplus ... Mr. Bradley has pledged to keep taxes in line in the next three years, and based on his record there's no reason to expect he won't accomplish this feat."

The first harsh criticism showed up 12 years into his political career, during the 1997 campaign, when The Observer endorsed challenger Terry Burrell. "Voters should be weary of Mike Bradley's one-man show and arrogant style," an editorial read. "We need a team approach and a mayor who can work with business and labour."

It added "Sarnia has lost 4,300 full-time manufacturing jobs since 1989. Nearly 1,000 of those jobs, most of them skilled and high paying, have disappeared since 1994."

During the next two elections the paper did not endorse anyone running for mayor.

In other words, during Bradley's seven municipal campaigns, The Observer endorsed him twice, said nice things about him a third time (without endorsing him outright), called for his defeat once and offered no opinion on three other occasions.

If you went through editorials written during non campaign periods you'd find much the same thing. Opinion pieces that slammed him for perceived shortcomings and ones that praised him when the newspaper thought he'd done well.

There's no doubt that Bradley has taken a lot of knocks from The Observer during his 21 years on council. But his claim that we are automatically against him doesn't stand up to close scrutiny.

Dan McCaffery is a reporter at The Observer who has covered 12 municipal elections since 1974. Contact him at

Dan McCaffery Saturday, October 14, 2006 The Observer


Date This Page Was Last Up-Dated:  October 22, 2006