The gates are closed. The rosters are set. Drivers, start your engines. The game is afoot.
Sports analogies and mixed metaphors prepare to abound.
As of last Friday, registration for city council candidates closed. Everyone who wanted to be on the ballot now is. Those who didn’t departed.
The municipal election is now for realz, yo.
Here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke we will begin the slow but meticulous process of winnowing down to our preferred list of candidates, shaping our endorsements, as you will. As any regular reader of this site, we are all about the council races. This is where the dynamic of the next city council will form. This is where our focus will be.
Today we begin by endorsing incumbents who are seeking re-election. Those we think contributed in a positive way to the maintaining of some sort of sanity during the last tumultuous 4 years. It couldn’t have been easy or pleasant. Combative more than productive. These councillors have earned the opportunity to attend to council business in a more civil and collegial atmosphere.
37 of 44 incumbents are seeking re-election (38, I guess if you include Rob Ford in Ward 2 Etobicoke North). If the political gods were just, more than 2/3 of them would be swept out of office. Nothing of the short will happen, of course. I guy’s entitled to dream, isn’t he?
While we’d like to think our opinions are at least informed, we can’t pretend they’re not subjective, based on likeability, perceived intelligence and engagement, without a large dose of political bias. From what we’ve witnessed over the past years, it is our humble opinion, with exceptions naturally, right wingers don’t tend to be good city builders.
One absolute, a pure straight up and down non-starter, is support for the Scarborough subway. Any councillor ultimately voting in favour of that white elephant displayed a wanton disregard for expert advice, taxpayers’ dollars and nothing but pure self-interest. That makes them unqualified to hold public office.
So, if you don’t see your councillor or ward on this list, it means we think it’s time for a change. We will note open wards in order to avoid any sort of confusion. Only the names of the councillors and the wards they represent should be considered having received the official All Fired Up in the Big Smoke seal of approval.
Ward 2 Etobicoke North [open, sort of].
Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre [open].
Ward 4 Etobicoke Centre [open].
Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore [open].
Ward 9 York Centre Councillor Maria Augimeri
She withstood a blistering attack from Team Ford, going right back to last election and faces what looks to be another tight election race. She didn’t speak out often during this term. When she did, she tended to speak out for those in the city without much of a voice at City Hall. Her short tenure as TTC chair set out to mitigate the reductions in service by the previous chair and put the TTC’s needs front and centre for the next city council.
Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Sarah Doucette
A 1st term councillor with the unfortunate timing of this being her first term. She displayed a certain calm resoluteness through it all. She helped save High Park Zoo from the chopping block. Contentious development is creeping up through her ward and, while that never makes a local councillor popular with everybody, she seemed to have negotiated the treacherous waters ably.
Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks
Yeah, well. What can I say about Gord? He was part of the bulwark that pushed back hardest against a mayor gone wild, able to fend off the worst excesses of this administration. It was always great to watch him speak and excoriate the idiocy of the administration and the knuckleheads pursuing it. His frustrations boiled over at times but they mirrored all of our frustrations. I mean, who amongst us didn’t want to drop an f-bomb in Josh Colle’s direction every now and then or hit Giorgio Mammoliti in the face and nuts simultaneously.
Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence [open].
Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina Councillor Mike Layton
As a constituent in the ward I was unimpressed with Mike out there on the campaign trail. I couldn’t help thinking he was being handed it. I was wrong however. Mike turned out to be a dynamite councillor, humble, diligent and conscientious. He rarely lost his cool at council even though he was often the focus of attack from the administration. He was also thrown into the fire of unrelenting development in Trinity-Spadina and never wilted. My runner-up for best 1st term councillor, 2010-14.
Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina [open].
Ward 21 St. Paul’s Councillor Joe Mihevc
Joe’s like a comfortable old shoe. Reliable, not flashy. He’s like that guy, probably an uncle, who’s got a really good story to tell but isn’t a very good storyteller. He gets there eventually, after taking a torturously route. He mistakenly believed that there was a way to compromise and negotiate with the likes of Team Ford which ended up with him somehow voting in favour of the Scarborough subway in only to have to retrace his steps. It’s a noble instinct but detrimental when misplaced. Joe probably deserves one more term to (hopefully) enjoy some relative peace and quiet.
Ward 22 St. Paul’s Councillor Josh Matlow
Lord knows, I’ve had my issues with Josh Matlow. He came into council in 2010 obstinately believing there was some verifiable truth lying somewhere smack dab in the middle between left and right. Somehow he’d missed the memo that the right at City Hall had moved really, really far right. He wised up and grabbed hold of the transit issue with an objective tenacity that was admirable. His schooling of Rob Ford on what an LRT actually was and where they were going to run in Scarborough belongs in the city council hall of fame. If there is such a thing.
Ward 26 Don Valley West Councillor John Parker
I have to look over some serious political differences on this one, the councillor’s Harris government background, his initial hardcore Team Fordness, that time he intoned the spectre of Greece and Detroit during a budget debate. Yet, he seems like a genuinely nice guy, somebody not unable to talk and iron out differences with those he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with. His calm demeanour and dry sense of humour offered welcome respite when he took over chairing council meetings. And lost in the whole Scarborough subway mess is the fact Councillor Parker really was the point person in the charge to take back the transit file from Rob Ford. His public musings about the mayor’s early attempt to bury the Eglinton crosstown for its entire length as being ‘the goofiest LRT ever’ helped kick start the conversation.
Ward 27 Toronto Centre Rosedale Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
This term’s breakout rookie superstar, Councillor Wong-Tam emerged unscathed (or as unscathed as anyone could from these past 4 years) despite relentless attacks on her and her ward from the mayor and other members of the right rear guard/old guard, beginning with the ripping up of the Jarvis bike lanes right up to the scaled back version of her Open Streets initiative. Through it all, she remained gracious but determined, articulate in her vision of the ward and the city at large. In many ways, she represented the calm, poised antithesis of the Ford and Co. blusterfuck. If you want to know what Toronto needs going forward, I’d say just a few more KWTs would do the trick.
Ward 31 Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis
While there was no one opposition leader to the Ford Administration on city council, few were more vocal, more dogged than Councillor Davis. She never seemed to take umbrage at their wantonly destructive ways so much as she was just morally outraged. She was like a defense attorney, relentlessly cross-examining their every move and motivation. There were few councillors who attended more committee meetings than Councillor Davis. There seems to be little about the city’s business she’s not on top of or doesn’t know inside out. Indefatigable might be my best description of her, tirelessly trying to make the city a better place for all of us to live.
Ward 32 Beaches-East York Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon
Perhaps next to the Ford Brothers, nobody elected to city council in 2010 reflected the anti-David Miller push more than Councillor McMahon. She pummelled the then Council Speaker, Sandra Bussin, touting a John Tory endorsement all the way into office. Not surprisingly, many of her early votes fell in behind the new administration. Eliminating the Vehicle Registration Tax, contracting out waste collection. She even voted to proceed with the Scarborough subway initially until joining in to try and pull the plug on it a few months later. She was truly part of the so-called mushy middle. But overall, she did the right thing whether or not we’re talking environmental issues, cycling or navigating the choppy waters of development in the Beaches. It’s easy to believe that with a better mayor and administration at City Hall, we will see a better Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.
Ward 33 Don Valley East Councillor Shelley Carroll
I can sum up my admiration for Councillor Carroll in one concise thought. Twice now Toronto has lost out on the opportunity for strong, forward-thinking, progressive leadership because she did not run for mayor in 2010 and again this year. We’re just going to have to settle for her back as city councillor. It’s what you’d call a lose-win situation.
Ward 39 Scarborough-Agincourt [open].
Ward 43 Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie
If we were given out awards, Councillor Ainslie would receive the Most Improved Councillor trophy. His move from an almost mute Team Ford voting machine to true independence was impressive. Councillor Ainslie pushed back at Team Ford before it became acceptable to do so. Alone among every other councillor from Scarborough, he gradually came around to the realization choosing a subway extension of the Bloor-Danforth over an LRT made little economic sense. He said so publicly. Eventually, he found himself on the outside but not before pushing through some innovative initiatives including voter reform while chair of the Government Management Committee. Councillor Ainslie proved you didn’t have to be loud or bombastic to get things done at City Hall.
– helpfully and hopefully submitted by Cityslikr