Eleven years after failing to convince voters he was the best candidate to be the city’s chief magistrate, John Tory will occupy Toronto’s top job on council after securing a comfortable win in last Monday’s election.
In a record turnout at the polls, the former Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance chair captured 40 per cent of votes and will be sworn in as the city’s 65th mayor on December 2.
In his victory speech, Tory promised to work in the interest of the people he has been elected to serve.
“The people have spoken and tonight we begin the work of building one Toronto, a prosperous, fair, respected and caring Toronto,” he said. “Together, like never before, we now begin building Toronto the great. As your new mayor, I will work with the council that the people of Toronto elected tonight in moving Toronto, not left, not right, but forward. I will be a balanced and accountable leader and we are going to do this together because tonight is not a victory for any one person. It’s a victory for Toronto and all of us who love this city and care about its future.”
With scandal and divisiveness marking Rob Ford’s reign, Tory has pledged to work collaboratively with councillors and the other two levels of government to return stability and respectability to city hall.
“The campaign may be over, but the renewal of our city begins now,” he said. “Toronto is the engine of growth in Ontario and Canada and we must remain strong. As your new mayor, I will work diligently and respectfully with the new council and with federal and provincial governments. The aim will always be the same and that is to unite Toronto and deliver real results for the people of Toronto.”
Tory wished Rob Ford, who was diagnosed with cancer last month, a speedy recovery and congratulated his challengers Doug Ford and Olivia Chow who he singled out for praise.
“You offered a vision of Toronto that appealed to the best in a lot of us,” Tory told her. “Your personal story is and always has been a true personification of the tremendous potential that is Toronto and Canada. That is the Toronto we are both proud of.”
Most of the familiar faces are back in the 44-member council after 36 of 37 incumbents retained their seats. They included Toronto Police Services Board vice-chair Michael Thompson who captured a resounding 81 per cent of the votes in Ward 37 Scarborough Centre.
“I am very pleased to continue to represent the community,” said the fourth-term councillor who captured 87.1 per cent and 83.6 per cent of the votes in the 2006 and 2010 elections respectively. “Getting more than 80 per cent is validation of the hard work I do for the people in my constituency and I will not relax.”
The chair of Toronto’s economic development and culture committee, Thompson said he’s looking forward to working with Tory.
“We have a good relationship and we have worked on a few things before,” he added.
In Ajax, Renrick Ashby retained his Ward 2 council seat with 31.7 per cent of the votes.
The Trinidad & Tobago-born immigrant has been a councillor since 2008 when he made history in a by-election by becoming Durham’s first Black councillor.
“I am happy with the result, but disappointed with some of the personal attacks made on me by challengers in this race during the campaign,” said Ashby. “If you question my track record, experience and ability to get things done, that’s one thing. But when it becomes personal, that’s something else that I cannot tolerate. My platform was rock solid and it obviously resonated with the constituents.”
For Guyanese-born lawyer Nirmala Armstrong, it was third time lucky.
Failing in bids to become a Markham city councillor eight years ago and a regional councillor in 2010, she was elected to join incumbents Jim Jones, Jack Heath and Joe Li on the city’s regional council.
“I am ready to work for our residents,” the former Markham Arts Council president said. “I will speak up for them and be their voice.”
David Smith – a supporter of Africentric school education — retained his Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee seat with a narrow 139-vote victory over firefighter Scott Harrison while York West has a new school liaison representative for the first time in 23 years.
Tiffany Ford, who was born and raised in the Jane & Finch community, replaces Stephnie Payne who retired. She defeated her closest Ward 4 rival by 3,610 votes.
“Our community came out in record numbers and they have made their voices clear,” said Ford who is a former Jane & Finch Concerned Citizens member and the founder of the Ford Global Group and Beyond at Risk which aims to dismantle negative connotations associated with the term “at-risk”. “They want change and they want people who are from our community to lead in supporting our students and creating positive changes for our schools in York West.
“The opportunity to directly influence change for better schools, accessibility to quality education, providing transparency and promoting a holistic approach for serving our young people in York West is an opportunity I must utilize. I am grateful for the opportunity and ready to work.”
In Peel region, David Green and Suzanne Nurse are back as school trustees in Brampton while Rick Williams was re-elected for a fifth term as a Mississauga public school trustee.
In Peel region, David Green and Suzanne Nurse are back as school trustees in Brampton while Rick Williams was re-elected for a fifth term as a Mississauga public school trustee and Patrice Barnes unseated incumbent Yvonne Forbes in the Durham District School Board Wards 1 and 2 trustee race.