Coun. Karen Stintz says she's dropping out of the race to become Toronto's next mayor.

At a Thursday morning news conference, Stintz cited financial reasons for bowing out, and said she also won't run again for her Ward 16 council seat.

"Absent a more substantive level of support, I must conclude my efforts," said Stintz

"I am disappointed that my vision and ideas did not gain the traction I had hoped. This has impacted my financial ability to continue. I am proud that I'm someone who stood up against the odds to make a difference in our city. I believe I made an impact on the mayoral race."

Stintz left the podium without taking questions, and did not say whether she will endorse any of the other candidates.

karen.stintz.metro.morning

Toronto Coun. Karen Stintz said she's dropping out of the mayoral race for financial reasons. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Stintz, who had been polling in the single digits in recent weeks, said: "It's time to start a new chapter." 

She said she's now focused on getting through next week's final council meeting and getting her kids ready for school.

A falling out with the Fords

A conservative first elected to council in 2003, Stintz was named chair of the TTC by Mayor Rob Ford in 2010. But Stintz and Ford fell out over the Scarborough subway issue. Stintz originally had backed the mayor's plan to build a subway along the route, then switched her support to light rail. That prompted Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor's closest adviser, to say that naming Stintz as TTC chair was "a mistake."

She would later vote with Ford to support a subway in Scarborough, leaving her open to critics who say she flip-flopped on the issue. Stintz said she simply altered her position to reflect changing circumstances.

She continued to distance herself from Mayor Ford last year as the mayor became enveloped in a drug use scandal. In November, Stintz voted with a majority of councillors in a motion to strip the mayor of his powers.

Her campaign included a plan to name one person a transportation "czar" responsible for overseeing transit development for the entire region. She also supported a plan to have the city sell off a portion of Toronto Hydro to pay for transit expansion.

Other top runners in the mayoral race include:

  • Rob Ford, incumbent.
  • Olivia Chow, former MP.
  • John Tory, former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader.
  • David Soknacki, former councillor.

Reaction from mayoral candidates

In a statement, Ford described Stintz as "a valuable ally who supported me in delivering on my fiscally responsible agenda." The mayor also acknowledged the pair did "not always see eye-to-eye" on the Scarborough subway issue.

Tory said "we all owe her a debt of gratitude for her public service" while Chow thanked Stintz for her contribution to "our city’s exchange of ideas." Soknacki also noted that he and Stintz were on opposite sides of the Scarborough subway debate, while praising her hard work on council.

"I doubt this is the last we’ll see or hear of Karen in the public arena," he said in a statement.

Effect on the mayoralty race?

CBC Toronto city hall reporter Jamie Strashin said that although polls pegged support for Stintz in the five-per-cent range, her departure could be an important factor.

"In a race that really could be decided by that amount — or maybe even less — if she throws her support behind a candidate, it could have an impact on this race."

Toronto voters will go to the polls on Oct. 27