Toronto City Council results: Firsts, upsets and close races

The city council is set to look a lot more like the city it represents thanks to the election Monday night of various candidates, including the council’s first hijab-wearing Muslim.

The council has long been older, whiter and more masculine than Toronto, where more than half of residents were born outside of Canada. But voters and candidates, some of whom won after multiple attempts, significantly bolstered representation for the upcoming term.

For Mayor John Tory, easily re-elected to a third term on Monday, that means facing progressive voices keen to swing the council from right to political left on a host of issues, including climate action, city services and property tax levels.

« We made history tonight, » said Ausma Malik, a Muslim woman and former school trustee who won the Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York seat vacated by Joe Cressy.

“And I want to see a lot more firsts, and a lot more people who can imagine taking progressive political leadership in this city and making it fairer and fairer.

“We need a renewal on the municipal council. For me, it took my local knowledge, my experience, to make sure our communities had a champion in city hall and…continue to break down the barriers to leadership in our city that have existed for far too long.

Amber Morley, a young black health promoter, upset longtime Ward 3 Etobicoke-Lakeshore councilor Mark Grimes in a bitter rematch after the 2018 election.

« I honestly believe that our collective consciousness has risen a bit over the last few years in terms of what people appreciate, » Morley said after his win. She cited « democracy, leadership, equity, fairness and justice. »

« There’s a lot of the community that hasn’t been happy with the outgoing councilor for many, many years, » she said, « but unfortunately (they) didn’t have a strong enough candidate who knew how to do the job, to build a team and rise above the top.

In Ward 9 Davenport, Alejandra Bravo, a Chilean-born former community organizer, won her fifth shot at power, after losing three municipal elections and a provincial contest.

« It’s like fighting alongside the people for 20+ years, you get a really good mandate to take a progressive voice and a vote on city council, » said Bravo, who replaces Coun. Ana Bailão, who is retiring from politics.

« One of the best things about tonight is honestly that it looks like a group of new progressive voices – so grounded in the community, so driven by the same values ​​– are coming to the council. »

In Ward 18, Willowdale Lily Cheng, Chinese-Canadian general manager of NeighborLink North York, beat Markus O’Brien Fehr, an outgoing council aide from the ward. John Filion, as well as pharmacist Daniel Lee.

Cheng campaigned for wanting to revisit a 59-person supportive housing building planned for Cummer Avenue, setting up a potential fight with Tory who endorsed O’Brien Fehr and strongly supports the council-approved plan.

Cheng said Monday evening, “I am in tears. I am deeply grateful for the support the community has shown me throughout this campaign. I’m still shocked actually. I really had no idea what was going to happen tonight.

In Ward 13 Toronto Centre, former school trustee Chris Moise is adding another progressive voice to the council after decisively beating eight other candidates in the open race.

Black and openly gay, Moise replaces three-term councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who left city hall for a successful foray into provincial politics.

Wong-Tam called Moise a candidate who « has championed fairness and social justice throughout his many years as a Toronto District School Trustee. »

In Ward 23 Scarborough North Jamaal Myers, a black lawyer and community advocate, will succeed Cynthia Lai, the councilor elected in 2018 who was seeking re-election but died suddenly on Friday.

Myers called his victory a « big deal », especially for Malvern, where people « opened their hearts. « I’m over the moon, » he said at his victory party.

He called the death of Lai, a businesswoman and Conservative ally, unexpected and tragic. “We obviously had very different visions of where we wanted to take things. But you know, we both shared a very strong love for our community. She was much loved in the community. And it’s part of a legacy that I hope to continue.

A few races have seen very thin margins which could be subject to recount demands.

In Ward 5 York South—Weston, veteran councilman and Conservative ally Frances Nunziata beat challenger Chiara Padovani, tenant advocate and social worker, by just 94 votes — 47.61 percent to 47.16 percent.

« I’m very happy with the results, » Nunziata told the Star, « and it’s very clear that my constituents have spoken, and they’ve been very happy with the service and the way I’ve represented them over the years. »

« A win is a win, » she said. « It was a long day, like any other campaign. »

The city’s election website showed that in Ward 11 University-Rosedale, Dianne Saxe, Ontario’s former environmental commissioner, appeared to beat Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Norm Di Pasquale by 120 votes. .

But that vote tally remained unchanged after the city’s website announced that votes from the last seven polls had been added, around midnight. Confusion abounded.

« They added seven polls and nothing changed and there was no explanation from the clerk, » said Di Pasquale’s campaign manager Marco Bianchi.

At around 12:40 p.m., the city confirmed that all ballots had been counted, with Saxe beating Di Pasquale by 123 votes. City spokesman Brad Ross warned that, as with all vote totals, they are not official until confirmed by the city clerk on Thursday.

The Ontario Municipal Elections Act states that recounts only occur automatically when votes are tied, but candidates can ask city council to order a recount.

Candidates can also go to court for a recount order.

The new council will officially take office in about a month, with speeches and smiles for the official photo. Then reality will set in for the leaders of a city facing enormous post-pandemic challenges.

They include an $875 million budget hole that could reach $1 billion by February, when the board will have to approve a 2023 spending plan, sources said, or deep cuts to balance the books.

TTC ridership and revenue have yet to recover, downtown office towers and the businesses that rely on them remain eerily quiet, and many residents are demanding improvements in basic services such as park maintenance and snow removal.

As the face of council changes, many familiar faces will be back in the hall at City Hall.

In Ward 4 Parkdale—High Park, incumbent Gord Perks fended off challenges from Chemi Lhamo and Siri Agrell. Perks has been the de facto leader of the council’s left flank, a budget watcher and a thorn in the side of Tory.

In Ward 1 Etobicoke North, former city councilor Vincent Crisanti returns to mayor. He beat 16 challengers vying to represent a neighborhood represented by the Ford family — from Rob to Doug to Rob to Michael — for more than two decades.

The ward was put on the line when Michael left city council to run for provincial office and was elected MPP for York South—Weston in June.

Also making a comeback is Jon Burnside, who was beaten in 2018 but triumphed in Ward 16 Don Valley East on Monday. With strong Conservative approval, the former Toronto police officer and food entrepreneur replaces the outgoing councillor. Denzil Minnan-Wong.

In Ward 21 Scarborough Centre, incumbent Michael Thompson was easily re-elected.

Thompson was charged with two counts of sexual assault in September. Thompson denied charges by two women, linked to incidents in Muskoka in July, and continued with his campaign that included no high profile challengers.

In Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt, incumbent Nick Mantas defeated a challenger with the same surname, garnering 49% of the vote.

With files from Victoria Gibson, Betsy Powell, Lex Harvey, Katie Daubs and Ben Mussett

David Rider is Star’s City Hall Bureau Chief and a reporter covering City Hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider


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