Who's in the running to run Toronto – Mang explains
The Toronto municipal election is more than 10 months away, but the bid for the mayor's chair is starting to get interesting.
The first person to file his candidate papers for mayor was Rocco Rossi.
Recently, Rossi quit as national director for the flagging and sagging federal Liberals. His most notable political contribution to Toronto city politics was spearheading John Tory's failed 2003 shot at becoming Toronto's mayor.
Rossi has unveiled some of his platform, which includes cutting the mayor's pay and selling off Toronto Hydro. That last idea seems a bit foolish unless he can provide evidence on how selling off the future to deal with the present is in Toronto's long-term interest.
Once a public service or utility is sold, there is no hope for future revenues – it's a one-time gain.
However, Rossi asserts that no mayor should serve for more than eight years. On this point, I have to agree with him. Too long in the mayor's chair and stagnation and entitlement can set in. And we've been witness to too many examples at all levels of government where the top job becomes less about good governance and the public interest and more about acquiring and wielding power (I'm looking at you Mr. Harper).
Rossi described himself as a "fiscal conservative".
Rossi's cherubic smile and likeable nature offer a nice counterpoint to Furious George Smitherman.
Smitherman may have thought that his bid should have been a cakewalk. Now he has the eHealth mess hanging around his neck, potent opponents, and a temperament that is a serious liability.
Some have observed that Smitherman's penchant to yell first and ask nice questions later, his constant caginess and bullying, may ensure that stuff gets done. But we don’t have a strong mayor system. Smitherman knows, from his time as Chief of Staff to Mayor Barbara Hall, that one must work with other Councillors and other levels of government.
Bullies and blowhards in municipal politics end up like their schoolyard counterparts: isolated, loathed, and eventually ignored.
Worth noting is that Conservative backroom worker, Jeff Bangs, who ran Tory's 2004 Progressive Conservative leadership campaign, signed up for the Smitherman campaign.
Smitherman recently gave a speech at the very posh, very conservative Conservative Albany Club in downtown Toronto. With the eyes of Tory leaders past looking down on this nominal Liberal, it seems Smitherman has convinced some of the red meat Conservative crowd that he could be their pal in office.
But Smitherman has said little by way of substance; rather, offering platitudes and tired bromides about leadership.
The old rhyme still rings true: "Liberal/Tory, same old story".
Adding to the increasingly crowded field on the right is John Tory. Expected to file his candidacy papers soon, Tory is taking a risk should he lose this election. I can only guess that either he's a glutton for punishment (unlikely) or that he actually cares about public service (likely).
The progressives aren't without their potential mayoral candidates.
Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone is expected to file soon. He's banking on experience, stating that his 29 years on council has been good job training for mayor.
He seems to be using his three decades in office to contrast himself with Adam Giambrone, who at age 32 would be the youngest candidate.
Some free advice to Pantalone: saying you've been in office almost as long as one of your opponents has been alive, makes it look like you've been in your job way too long and have no new or fresh ideas.
Indeed, Adam Giambrone, the current chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, is interesting, extraordinarily intelligent and is certainly worth watching should he enter the race. While he needs political seasoning, he has the smarts for the job.
Further, on the progressive side, there's seems a good likelihood that Budget Chief Shelley Carroll will run. Although some pundits have referred to her as a Liberal, she appears to have supported NDP candidates in the past. Suffice it to say, she's not part of the Liberal/Conservative slate populated by Tory, Rossi and Smitherman.
Carroll appears to be a competent Councillor and would be a very worthy opponent.
Giambrone, Carroll or Pantalone offer progressives some worthwhile choices.
Finally, former NDP MPP and now conservative, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, filed his papers today for mayor.
Mammoliti has been murmuring about the gig for a few months, so this is not a surprise.
Also not surprising is that he will most likely serve as the mayoral race's most controversial figure. Although he took his NDP affiliation out to the woodshed long ago, he is no doubt a conservative (however, he has a Liberal membership but, like almost everyone running for mayor, once supported John Tory).
He has promised to cut the already strapped civil service, outsource public services (see his plan? Starve the public service, then declare broken, then say the only way to restore services is to let the private sector in) and "get tough" with unions.
Mammoliti also wants to "get tough" on crime (even though crime rates keep falling), put gang members in jail (Note to Giorgio: we have a criminal code, which is under federal jurisdiction, that ensures due process when someone breaks the law. Are you suggesting that we round up gang members without due process and jail them? Good luck with that). And he wants to clamp down on the scourge that plagues Toronto: illegal holistic spas.
Forgetting that Toronto has a vibrant, active and very vocal arts community, Mammoliti mused about "putting on the table" for review the $40 million per year the city gives to arts, cultural and community groups.
Further, not wanting to let a bad idea die, he reiterated his support for a casino in Toronto.
When asked about whether he supports Rossi's pledge to cut the mayor's pay, Mammoliti objected, noting that "if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys". No word on whether he applied similar thinking to his promise to cut the civil service.
If only Rob Ford would enter the race, we would have a throng of candidates with three on the right, three on the left and two in la-la land.
Only a few days into 2010 and the Toronto mayor race is shaping up to be an entertaining spectacle.
- Post by Eric Mang