Longtime Hampstead Mayor leaves with a clear conscience

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The oldest mayor of the island looks back on his 16 years in office without regretting his ambitions for the city.

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No apologies and no regrets.

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William Steinberg said he was proud of his 16-year legacy as mayor of Hampstead and is leaving the town in a better position than when he was first elected.

Steinberg was beaten after four terms on Sunday night, ending his tenure as the island’s longest-serving mayor (tied with Dorval’s Edgar Rouleau who decided not to run again this year).

On Monday afternoon, as the task of emptying the office he had occupied for more than a decade and a half loomed, Steinberg said he accepted the electorate’s decision.

However, he said he was disappointed with the low turnout.

“If there is a lesson to be learned from all of this, I would say that people have to take their responsibility to come out and vote, otherwise they can’t complain,” he said.

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Just over 2,000 eligible voters in Hampstead voted in Sunday’s election, a turnout of 45.1 percent. Steinberg garnered 45 percent of the vote against 55 percent of newcomer Jeremy Levi.

Steinberg had lobbied for unpopular zoning changes on Côte-St-Luc Road. it would have increased tax revenue but would have changed the minimum height of buildings in this 10-story street. He made it the central plank of his platform.

“I believe that a mayor should be a leader, and while several people have suggested that I not push the controversy on Côte-St-Luc road. and just running on my track record is just not me.

Steinberg was first elected in 2005, after successfully leading the city’s campaign for the dissociation of the city of Montreal.

That would have been dishonest, Steinberg said, not to mention his plans to increase density on the city’s main thoroughfare and surprise the electorate after his re-election.

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“I have never considered myself to be a politician,” he said. “I was certainly not a politician at the time and bragged about never being a politician, which means putting being elected above all else.”

Steinberg must have known that upzoning would be a polarizing problem. Residents came in force two years ago to vote in a referendum against the demolition of two three-story buildings so that they could be converted into high-rise apartment buildings.

However, he insisted that the density increase because he wanted to “take Hampstead to the next level”.

Tax revenues from the population increase could have financed a new civic center comprising a gymnasium, a small auditorium for lectures and concerts, a teenage lounge and a café.

Another no-regret is the way in which Steinberg spoke out against Bill 21, the law on secularism in Quebec.

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He called the law, which prohibits teachers, judges and police from wearing religious clothing, a form of ethnic cleansing “not with a weapon, but with a law.”

Although he was called on by politicians everywhere, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to withdraw his comments and apologize, he never did. On Monday, Steinberg maintained his remarks.

“I can tell you that a lot more voters (from Hampstead) were happy with these remarks than upset with them,” he said. “They were glad I spoke.”

Outside of his role as mayor, Steinberg was successful in getting cochlear implant surgery to take place in Montreal, a procedure previously only performed in Quebec. The first surgeries are expected to be performed in the coming months, said Steinberg, chairman of the Association of cochlear implant recipients .

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Steinberg said he wasn’t sure what his plans were for his post-political life, but was eager to travel and had several other causes he could lend his voice to.

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Hampstead election preliminary results

Mayor

  • Jérémy Levi: 1,187 (55%)
  • William Steinberg *: 965 (45%)

Councilor, District 1

  • Michael Goldwax: 1,494 (70%)
  • David Sufer: 633 (30%)

Councilor, District 2

  • Jack Edery *: 1,388 (67%)
  • Naomi Huck-Ananou: 694 (33%)

Councilor, District 3

  • Léon Elfassy * (acclaimed)

Councilor, District 4

  • Jason Farber: 1,209 (57%)
  • Angela Rapoport: 898 (43%)

Councilor, District 5

  • Warren Budning * (acclaimed)

Councilor, District 6

  • Harvey Shaffer *: 746 (35%)
  • Julie Brummer: 729 (34%)
  • Steven Kovac: 670 (31%)

*Incumbent

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