By TOM GODFREY
It’s a David and Goliath battle for the 13 candidates competing against Mayor Rob Ford, who has dropped out from the mayoral race to run for Ward 2, his old stomping grounds.
The candidates, as hard as they work, have a slim chance of defeating Ford for a seat that he held for 10 years before being elected mayor.
Ford, as we know, was forced to leave the mayoral race due to health concerns. Many believe he can reclaim Ward 2 without even leaving his hospital bed.
The Mayor’s nephew, Michael Ford, was removed from the Ward 2 ballot and is now running as a school board trustee.
His uncle, Doug Ford, who held the riding for the last four years, is now running for mayor and will be debating front-runner John Tory and Olivia Chow.
Black candidates, Andray Domise and Benn Adeoba, both wish the Mayor a speedy recovery but claim Ward 2 has been neglected for a long time by the Ford brothers and residents want change.
Domise, a former financial planner, said his campaign strategy will not change as he blasts the Ford brothers for ignoring transit, jobs for residents and development in the area.
“We are running the same campaign today as we were yesterday,” said Domise. “I was a bit taken aback but not shocked to hear the Mayor was back in the race for this ward.”
Domise said the ward is one of the most underdeveloped and transit deprived in the city.
He accused mayoral candidate Doug Ford of being a “part-time” councillor who was never in the community.
Domise, Adeoba and the others have a seemingly impossible task to defeat Mayor Ford, who has a wide base of loyal Ford Nation supporters.
Adeoba, a realtor, said he will continue campaigning flat out until October 27.
The bickering does not bother Patricia Crooks, who is ploughing ahead in her run for councillor of nearby Ward 1.
Crooks doesn’t believe the Mayor’s return to Ward 2 will affect her campaign.
“We have been getting a great response at the door,” Crooks told Share. “People here want change and we are trying to mobilize the community to come out and vote.”
Crooks said her ward has been underserved by the TTC and is calling for Light Rapid Transit (LRT) in Etobicoke.
The Jamaican-born school social worker has been living in the area for about 20 years and is competing against eight East Indian candidates for the diverse ward that has been held by Vincent Crisanti since 2010.
Crooks, who is a member of Unity Village Family Services Centre, said she brings experience, wisdom and perspective to the job.
“This area has been neglected and ignored for a long time,” she said. “People want better TTC service, increased wages and more affordable childcare.”
In Ward 9, candidate Ances Hercules is waging a good fight in a bid to remove incumbent, Maria Augimeri, who has held the seat for 32 years.
“Our campaign is going well and we have been receiving support,” Hercules told Share. “We have knocked on more than 1,000 doors so far and the response has been great.”
Hercules, who was born in St. Lucia, is a mom of three who works as a medical laboratory assistant at a major hospital.
Her priorities include community safety for children and improved infrastructure, parks and TTC service in the ward.
Hercules was inspired to run after the deaths of two people at an electronic music festival at Downsview Park last August.
“This community needs and deserves a fresh start and a strong voice,” she said. “I believe that Downsview is one of the best places to live, raise a family, work and retire.”
Hercules is passionate about the ward and the improvements she can make if elected.
“I stand proud of this community and its rich cultural diversity, parks and infrastructure,” she said.
The candidates, perhaps rightly so, accuse Augimeri of coasting and ignoring the concerns of residents in the ward that she has held for more than three decades.