BATRA: Individual battles makes election a race worth watching

The battle for the mayor’s chair in Toronto is the least interesting race before the October 22 municipal vote.

John Tory will be easily re-elected since his closest competitor, if you can even call Jennifer Keesmaat that, proved herself an un-serious candidate the second she tweeted Toronto should secede from Ontario.

That ill advised social media post was in response to Premier Doug Ford’s reasonable plan to reduce council from 47 to 25, but essentially sealed Keesmaat’s fate.

But that doesn’t mean this municipal election will be a sleeper. As Councillor Joe Michevc quite cleverly put it, the races for the 25 wards will be Toronto’s version of the Hunger Games.

And now that we know who the tributes are, what remains is who has the odds in their favour.

As the Sun’s Antonella Artuso has laid out, a number of incumbents will now be running against each other in the expanded boundaries.

Many once allies will now be electoral foes, and for those incumbents who haven’t had to face a serious contender before, it has lit a fire under them.

One thing they all face is getting thousands of new voters to figure out who they are.

Not an impossible task if done strategically.

With the incumbent vs incumbent scenario, certainly name recognition matters, but it just means you will do well on the side of the ward you’re currently representing.

The new 25 ward system will also see some representatives who deserve to be re-elected not returning to city council.

That is certainly the case in Ward 15 (Don Valley West). Incumbents Jon Burnside and Jaye Robinson will be battling it out.

Both are popular in their respective wards, strong constituent representatives and not afraid to get into it with city staff to fight for their residents.

But only one can survive, and it will likely be Robinson. This could be her third term and as Chair of Public Works has had a high profile under Tory’s mayoralty. Burnside for his part, is a former police officer, and if he loses, might want to look up the street to Queen’s Park if he wants to stay in the political arena. We would all be better for it.

In Ward 20 (Scarborough Southwest) veteran councillors Gary Crawford and Michelle Holland-Berardinetti have been a part of the mayor’s executive at some point during the last four years, and both are well liked by their constituents.

Crawford, who had entertained the idea of running provincially in the last election, has ably served as budget chief, however Holland-Berardinetti has carved out a niche leading the tech and innovation file for city and enjoys name recognition on Crawford’s side of the ward. So slight advantage to her.

The must-watch battle however, is between Mihevc and another incumbent Josh Matlow. Neither have faced anyone of note in their time running for office, except for now. Again, both are liked on their sides of the new Ward 12 (Toronto-St.Paul).

And the results from the provincial which saw the seat go NDP orange, aren’t particularly instructive since both Mihevc and Matlow tilt far to the left. Depending on who you ask, particularly if it were up to their council colleagues, Mihevc would have the edge.

The new Ward 6 (York Centre) should also be on your to watch list. Those on the ground are giving this one to incumbent James Pasternak over Maria Augimeri.

Where we will finally be able to say farewell to at least one left-wing councillor is in Ward 14 (Toronto- Danforth). Both veteran councillors, Mary Fragedakis versus Paula Fletcher, are on the political left and are natural council allies.

But, Fragedakis has the edge, however small.

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In the father-son switcheroo which has defeated Liberal MPP Mike Colle running where his son Josh would have had he not decided to leave for the private sector, incumbent councillor Christin Carmichael Greb won’t necessarily walk away with Ward 8 (Eglinton-Lawrence) but should win. Just watch for any mutual campaign events she and Tory have in the coming weeks.

As for Mr. “I’m out, now I’m back in because I probably can’t find a job in the real world” John Filion, he’s in tough in Ward 18 (Willowdale) against two significant competitors — one former councillor Norm Gardner and newcomer plus Uber-fighter and taxi champion Sam Moini.

In Ford country, Etobicoke Ward 1 has Vince Crisanti battling it out with the premier’s nephew, Michael Ford. Crisanti, also an ally of the senior Ford, won’t be able to hold off the younger Ford however.

That said, most of these races are far from settled.

What will matter is the ground game, who can pull their vote on election day and ultimately be the victor.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies