THE MESSAGE IS clear: the status quo at city hall is not good enough and is contributing to holding the city back.Never in the city’s history has the decision making and control been in the hands of so few.
Public consultation has been rushed and token.The time has come to return the “power to the people.”
The new mayor can set the tone and ensure the priorities are set by the residents of Toronto. Big vision ideas are always an asset, but now more than ever we need a mayor who we like and trust.
At this point, it looks like there will be four main contenders: John Tory (undeclared), George Smitherman (declared), Joe Pantalone (strongly interested) and Rocco Rossi (declared).The first is a Conservative, the second a Liberal, the third an NDP and the last a Liberal.
Joe Pantalone will attract the NDP vote as well as some of the union vote. There is a significant Italian community who may also support the deputy mayor.
Pantalone supported the Front Street Extension and the straightening of the Dufferin Jog.
There has been a history of promises made to developers who have built condos in Pantalone’s ward, assuring the Gardiner Expressway will be removed.
Some businesses have had challenges opening as he maintains tight control of restaurants and bars in his ward. He is the city tree advocate and has led the way, planting thousands of trees to increase the city canopy and greening. He is a seasoned veteran as a member of the former Metro Council as well as 12 years on the mega-city council. His main focus is downtown.
Pantalone has worked well with Mel Lastman and the current mayor and has been successful gaining plum positions of influence. He can be a bully with a temper to get necessary support to further the agenda.
But I believe that Mayor Miller will step down soon and announce a climate change position. He may call upon Mr. Pantalone with the support of council to finish the term. Pantalone may then not be able to enter the mayoral race, as an appointed mayor.
John Tory is currently hosting Live Drive on Newstalk 1010. He is able to discuss all of the daily issues, and it provides an effective forum for listening and developing a pulse for the thoughts of many. It enables him to take a stand on issues. His answers are becoming more definite and concise. He is attracting some Liberal support.
George Smitherman has more than 1,000 friends on his mayoralty Facebook, which indicates momentum. He has a reputation for getting things done but also for impatience and temper when things do not go his way.
He had city hall experience with former mayor Barbara Hall prior to amalgamation. He has been accustomed to a powerful portfolio and supportive bureaucracy.There would appear to be some burnt bridges with former colleagues, but Smitherman also has a loyal following. He declared his intentions and zeroed in on “jobs.”He missed the vote on HST by stepping down but had to account for 70 per cent of the eHealth boondoggle while he was Minister of Health. Others have stepped down, but he has been silent.
A recent poll indicated 47 per cent support for Tory and 21 per cent for Smitherman. Up to this point, Pantalone has not been polled. Miller has endorsed him which could be the kiss of death — if the majority of the voters want “change” rather than “more of the same.” Rocco Rossi was John Tory’s campaign manager in 2003.
He most recently has been the national director of the federal Liberal party and successfully fundraised to put the party back into the black. He will attract support from the business community. He is a bit of a showboat but is generally positive and gregarious.
Toronto needs a “mayor for all people” who will lead with urgency committed to bridge building with the province, the feds, the 905 and the school boards.