By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Olivia Chow has officially been voted in as Toronto’s new mayor after winning in her second attempt at the leadership role.
“Building a city that cares. That’s what we’re all about,” said Chow. “Building a city left behind by decades of neglect will not be easy. We can make it happen by committing to each other and the city we love. Our work starts right now.”
The former Member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina beat out her opposition with 37 per cent of the votes. Coming in second was Ana Bailoa, with 32 per cent of votes; and in third place was Mark Saunders with eight per cent.
Upper Beach resident Anthony Furey, finished fourth with 4.96 per cent of the vote. Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford placed eighth with just over 1.28 per cent of the votes.
In his speech to his supporters, Furey said his success may have come as surprise to some but not to those working on his campaign.
“We’re the little campaign that could. They said we couldn’t do it, but we did and we made a difference,” said Furey. “When you put forward policies that are true to you, that you’re passionate about, committed about, they will join you. Together we wanted to build a better city and that’s what we did.”
Bradford told Beach Metro Community News that he’s always been an individual who finds pathways to collaborate and plans on continuing this pattern once Chow begins her term.
“Olivia won the election tonight and that’s quite a departure from what we’ve seen in the past decade at City Hall,” said Bradford. “It definitely represents a different type of leadership. I don’t know [Chow] very well. For the past few months we’ve been political opponents, but tomorrow we’re colleagues.”
He said he expects there will be issues of agreement and disagreement with the new mayor in the future.
“I expect that there will be lots of things that the new mayor and I can work together on, but there will also be points of divergence,” he said at his campaign party held at Local 1794 on Danforth Avenue Monday night. “So I will continue to stand up for young families and seniors, affordability, and making sure that Torontonians can get around the city.”
Many of Chow’s critics now hold their breath in anticipation of what the dynamic in City Hall will be moving forward – considering her NDP affiliation and the disdain of many Torontonians for Ontario’s ruling party.
However, she believes that she is the right person to stand up against Premier Doug Ford and return affordability to the lives of residents.
“I said to Premier Ford who graciously called me tonight – and his minister Steve Clark – and he said we look forward to working together,” said Chow. “We look forward to finding common ground because I know we believe in the people of this city.”
In her first 100 days, Chow said her focus will be on affordable homes, transit, and getting Toronto a fairer deal with the provincial and federal arms of government. However, some, like Bradford, believe that this will be a difficult task for the newly appointed mayor.
“If there was a deal that was to be had by snapping your fingers, it would have already happened,” said Bradford. “So that’s the thing. You have to park the partisanship. As the mayor, you have to roll up your sleeves and work with everyone.”
Bradford advised Chow upon her victory to focus on the shared values and interests of all levels of government. The shared interest he references is the City of Toronto current need for housing, a platform that Bradford campaigned on.
“This level of government relies on relationships with the provincial and federal government,” said Bradford.
“They are our partners in building housing, transit and infrastructure. That’s essential. So the new mayor will need to make sure they are focussed on building strong relationships.”
Chow has publicly denounced the use of Strong Mayor powers which Bradford said is a slight concern because this position might lead to “more delays on issues we just can’t afford to wait on anymore”.
Although not directly advising the use of the newly created mayoral powers, he urged Chow to find a way to get things done for Torontonians who, with the change in leadership, have indicated that they want something different.
The Beaches-East York Councillor now plans on shifting his attention back to City Hall with no immediate mayoral ambitions in mind moving forward.
“I’m definitely going to take time to focus on my 21-day-old daughter and my wife who’s been an incredible supporter through all this,” he said. “That’s where my head’s at in the days ahead.”
Bradford predicts that Toronto has a few tough years ahead as Council tries to balance a budget with a gap of over a billion dollars. With Chow now firmly in the driver’s seat, Bradford’s promised that he is “here to help her”.
Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.