News Local

It's close: Hamilton

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

If opinion polls and surveys tell the tale of Barrie's mayors race, it's a convoluted campaign.

There's no clear consensus on where the contenders sit as Monday, the last voting day, fast approaches.

Rob Hamilton says it's a three-man race which also includes Joe Tascona and Jeff Lehman.

Hamilton says a door-to-door weekend survey conducted with his campaign team workers shows the former mayor (2003-2006) is thick with Tascona and Lehman in voter approval.

"We are right there," said Hamilton. "Joe has lost ground and we have always been ahead of Lehman."

Poll Position

Rob Hamilton's door-to-door survey:

Residences visited -- 637 Responses -- 111

Support Hamilton -- 36 Support others -- 10 Undecided -- 65

Source: Rob Hamilton's campaign team "We have closed the gap on Joe. He has plateaued and receded."

The poll was conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 637 city residences. He says citizens old enough to vote, and who said they were voting, were asked 'who are you going to vote for?' in the mayor's race.

Hamilton says its results contradict an Oct. 13 poll Lehman commissioned -- which showed he and Tascona were in a dead heat, with Hamilton third, Mike Ramsay fourth and Dave Aspden, the current mayor, fifth. Harry Ahmed, Carl Hauck and Darren Roskam, also running for mayor, were not specifically part of the Lehman poll.

Conducted by Pollstra Research, it was an automated telephone survey done in a three-hour period.

"This is more accurate than Lehman's robo-poll," Hamilton said of his weekend survey. "What they (Lehman's c a mpaign team) are doing is totally, totally unethical."

He later said the Pollstra survey produced "a cooked result" and that "it is dishonest".

Quito Maggi, Lehman's campaign manager, disputes these statements.

"Mr. Hamilton's comments about this being unethical are laughable," Maggi said. "He has commissioned multiple automated polls and not made the public or the media aware of the outcomes. His criticisms of the automated polls themselves are hypocritical, given that he has conducted numerous automated polls."

Maggi pointed to an automated poll conducted in Barrie on Monday night, but Hamilton denied it was done by his people.

He said the problem isn't candidate polling, it's making the results public.

"These polls are released for political advantage, pure and simple," Hamilton said. "I take exception to poll results that show I am not in the race. They are skewed, nothing but polls to influence the voters."

Hamilton said he heard little about the other five candidates during his weekend poll, except for a few negatives about Aspden.

"And Ramsay has shot himself in the foot," Hamilton said. "He is seen as an angry guy."

But Ramsay has little use for Lehman's and Hamilton's polls.

"The polls by candidates are not to be trusted. It is just part of the propaganda of election campaigns," he said. "I have a larger number of signs on people's lawns than the other candidates. I have now out-paced Joe Tascona. Jeff Lehman has fewer signs than Rob Hamilton.

"Getting people to take a sign is extremely difficult and this is the truest display of a candidate's strength."

Aspden has little use for automated polls either.

"I have never used telephone polling and will not. I feel it is an invasion on someone's privacy, and an interruption to people at home," he said. "Many people I have spoken with are very disturbed that candidates are using these tacky means.

"I have actually gained support when people find out I am not the one disrupting their dinner, by listening to a telephone recorder wanting to know how they are going to vote, and they respect my position. The only poll that counts is on the 25th (of) October."

Ahmed tackled the polls issue at Tuesday's all-candidates debate, just before he left.

"Why did you pay for two separate polls and not include me? Isn't that democracy," he said to Lehman. "Or are you afraid of change in Barrie."

The politicians and their campaign teams aren't the only ones doing opinion polls, however.

Two city media organizations recently asked 368 eligible voters, using a live pollster, 'who do you think you will be voting for or leaning to vote for, for mayor of Barrie on Oct. 25?'

Tascona led the pack at 31%, followed by Lehman at 26.3%, Hamilton at 18.9%, Ramsay at 15.5%, Aspden at 4.6%, Ahmed at 1.8%, Roskam at 1.4% and Hauck at 0.4%. But 20.9% of respondents were also undecided.

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