Three newly elected mayors in Ontario's southwest all face the challenge of rebuilding and diversifying their cities' economies. Canada's former industrial heartland has yet to recover from a recession that hit six years ago. With few prospects of secure, well-paid jobs, young people are leaving Windsor. But the problem goes well beyond motor city. In London, Caterpillar Inc. and Kellogg Inc. have each pulled up stakes and there are fewer jobs in the city than before the recession. More than 25 per cent of the region's manufacturing jobs have vanished over the past decade. Hamilton, however, has recently experienced stronger growth than most other cities in Ontario's manufacturing belt.
Matt Brown, a teacher with the Thames Valley District School Board and a one-term city councillor, was elected the next mayor of London.
Mr. Brown's main opposition was supposed to come from two fellow councillors. But a desire among voters for a break with the past helped political outsider Paul Cheng emerge as Mr. Brown's main challenger, said Martin Morak, associate professor of political science at Western University.
"I think there's a really deep desire for change in London," Prof. Morak said.
Councillors Roger Caranci and Joe Swan were seen as being too close to the status quo, he said. Mr. Swan finished a distant third.
Mr. Cheng's strong showing was helped by the fact that those opposed to Mr. Brown saw him as connected to the political establishment from his days working as an organizer for the Liberals, Prof. Morak said.
Former London mayor Joe Fontana left office with his reputation in tatters. He resigned in June after he was found guilty of fraud and breach of trust for forging an expense document while he was a federal Liberal minister. He was sentenced in July to four months of house arrest.
Fred Eisenberger has emerged as the new mayor of Hamilton after a heated three-way race with fellow outgoing councillors.
The victory marks a return to the mayor's office for Mr. Eisenberger. He led the city for one term in 2006 before losing his re-election bid in 2010. The incumbent, Bob Bratina, did not run again and plans to seek a federal Liberal nomination. Mr. Bratina threw his support behind Brad Clark, a front-runner in the race.
During his previous term as mayor, Mr. Eisenberger struggled to bridge urban and suburban divides. He has positioned himself as someone who can unify the community this time around, saying he will work harder to help the city's fractious council reach consensus.
The largely blue-collar city has recently experienced stronger growth than most other cities in Ontario's manufacturing belt and all three mayoral contenders agreed on the need to continue diversifying away from steel.
Public transit was a major issue during the campaign, with Mr. Clark echoing many of Mr. Bratina's arguments against immediately pushing ahead with light rail transit in the city. Rival Brian McHattie was among the project's most vocal supporters. Mr. Eisenberger said council should consult with the public.
Drew Dilkens has big shoes to fill after winning election as mayor of Windsor.
The city councillor beat out 11 other candidates after running on the record of outgoing mayor Eddie Francis and securing his endorsement. During his three terms in office, the charismatic Mr. Francis left his stamp on the city, steering it through its darkest days.
Windsor is still suffering from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and can no longer count on the Big Three auto companies to form the backbone of its economy.
Mr. Dilkens was up against John Millson, another front-runner who was backed by allies of former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister and long-time Windsor MPP Dwight Duncan. Mr. Millson, a former mayor of Windsor from 1988 to 1991, jumped into the race after a 23-year absence from municipal politics. "I'm not dead yet," he joked in September, when he announced his candidacy.
Political newcomer Dan Marchisella has defeated incumbent Rick Hamilton to become the next mayor of the northern Ontario city of Elliot Lake. The race was widely watched to see what impact the collapse of a mall would have on the ballot box.
Mr. Marchisella said he was running for mayor because the community needs new leadership. The Elliot Lake Inquiry commission released its report this month in the deadly collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in 2012, and it's critical of the mayor, city council and building inspectors among others. The report says they ignored public complaints and warnings about leaks and falling concrete.