Rob Ford emerged as the victor in Toronto's race for mayor, riding a wave of popular support for his cost-cutting promises.
With 99.9 per cent of polls reporting in Monday's municipal election, Ford garnered 47.1 per cent of the vote, compared with 35.6 per cent for former provincial Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman. Deputy mayor Joe Pantalone trailed with 11.7 per cent.
At about 9:30 p.m., Ford took the stage at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke to the strains of 80s rock classic Eye Of The Tiger, clutching the hand of his wife Renata.
"Tonight the people of Toronto are not divided. We are united," Ford told an estimated 5,000 supporters who had gathered at the venue.
"Together we built a coalition of voters who agreed with this — to put an end to the wasteful spending and to watch the taxpayers' money and respect the taxpayers' money."
The veteran councillor ran on a platform calling for fiscal austerity and his campaign was defined by his repeated pledges to "stop the gravy train" at city hall.
Ford promised to:
- Scrap the city's vehicle registration fee and land transfer tax.
- Dedicate transit resources to building subway lines instead of light rail.
- Phase out streetcars in favour of low-emission buses.
- Contract out city services.
- Do away with the "fair wage" policy when contracting out.
- Cut city staff through attrition.
Ford's main rival, Smitherman, also said he would take a hard look at the city's finances and cut staff through attrition. But he presented himself as a progressive alternative to Ford, a message that did not appear to resonate with the electorate.
In a concession speech at a downtown nightclub, Smitherman said he had called Ford to offer him his "most sincere congratulations."
"I lost an election that was mine to win and I accept that," Smitherman told his supporters. "It is my duty to own up to the mistakes I may have made and to offer a heartfelt apology to all of those who believed in me."
Couched congrats from Pantalone
Pantalone, who ran a distant third, presented himself as the man who would further the vision of outgoing mayor David Miller.
In his concession speech, Pantalone congratulated Ford.
"He had a tightly focused campaign. He has provided a valuable reminder to city council that taxpayers' money must be treated with respect, and I think that has to be heard by all of us," he said.
However, he added, he wanted to remind Ford that "there is also a divided city that went to the polls. And it does not have a strong mandate for radical drastic change a la Mike Harris."
Meanwhile, 14 of Toronto's 44 councillors will be newcomers:
- Mary-Margaret McMahon unseated Sandra Bussin in Ward 32.
- Mary Fragedakis beat former mayoral candidate Jane Pitfield in Ward 29.
- Michelle Berardinetti defeated Adrian Heaps (chair of the Toronto cycling committee) in Ward 35.
- Sarah Doucette defeated longtime councillor Bill Saundercook in Ward 13.
- Jaye Robinson defeated Cliff Jenkins in Ward 25.
- Ana Bailao beat Kevin Beaulieu (former executive assistant to Adam Giambrone) in Ward 18.
- Josh Matlow edged Chris Sellors in Ward 22.
- Kristyn Wong-Tam narrowly beat Ken Chan in Ward 27.
- Vincent Crisanti beat Suzan Hall in Ward 1.
- Josh Colle beat Rob Davis in Ward 15.
- Doug Ford, brother of Rob Ford, beat Cadigia Ali in Ward 2.
- Mike Layton beat Karen Sun in Ward 19.
- James Pasternak won over Nancy Oomen in Ward 10.
- Gary Crawford beat Robert Spencer in Ward 36.
Voter turnout was at 53.2 per cent, with 99.9 per cent of polls reporting.