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Honouring Andy Brandt

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 15:50 -- Chris Cooke
Andy Brandt Marina sign

Matt Mitro reportedly wanted to speak but Dave Brown was having none of it.

The event was the renaming of the Sarnia Bay Marina to the Andrew S. Brandt Marina after an iconic politician who was instrumental in convincing the Province to pour millions into the facility some 34 years ago.

For the 80-year-old former Sarnia Mayor, Member of Provincial Parliament, cabinet minister and chairman of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario the marina renaming was his day not Matt Mitro’s.

And Brown who manages the marina and was running the renaming ceremony was clearly in charge and Mitro wasn’t on the speaker’s list. Nor should he be.

What could he possibly say?

That he was on the former Council that approved Brown’s request to rename the marina after Brandt. Although I haven’t bothered to ask Mitro I suspect as much.

Mitro isn’t Brandt and never will be. Mitro is a one term counsellor in constant need of notoriety.

Brandt spent a decade as a local politician before moving on to Queen’s Park where he held cabinet posts and for a time was interim leader of the Conservative Party. Later he became chairman of the LCBO where he produced record profits.

What made Brandt so successful was his uncanny ability to get along with everyone. Unlike Mitro he ignored political stripes and just got the job done.

In Brandt’s world there weren’t any code of conduct violations and vendettas against politicians he didn’t like.

As a reporter for The Sarnia Gazette I can remember doing interviews with Brandt in his City Hall office on weekends. “I’ll just leave the front door open,” he would tell me and I would show up with a couple of coffees.

There wasn’t a wall separating him from the City Manager. No fortress – like atmosphere, no key cards, no security cameras and as Mayor he had unlimited access to City Hall. Brandt who was simply known everywhere as “Andy” didn’t have to wait for City Hall staff to show up during office hours for access to the building.

He, like Marceil Saddy after him could come and go as demands of the office required. It never occurred to anyone that the Mayor couldn’t have access to City Hall. It wasn’t until Mitro and his like – minded gang of vendetta seeking political warriors showed up that City Hall would become a fortress and Mike Bradley would have to take refuge at coffee shops.

So what slice of wisdom could Mitro, a one term-er possibly share with Brandt, a seasoned politician who did so much for the City and its people?

Instead of talking, which Mitro loves to do he should just listen.

If he did he would hear Andy pay tribute to the late Jack Kennedy, who helped develop downtown Sarnia and was instrumental in pushing him to get Provincial funding for the marina. If Mitro would listen he would hear Andy remind everyone that while the marina is named after him the building is named after Jack.

Jack Kennedy knew the marina would generate a lot of economic activity for the community. Brown says the building is going to be renovated and a $125,000.00 rejuvenation campaign is underway.

It is about politicians and the community working together to get things done.

Mitro would have heard all that if he had listen but I suspect he didn’t.

I could be wrong about this but I’m usually not.

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