Michael Ford will seek uncle Rob Ford's former council seat

Michael Ford, Rob Ford's nephew, will run in a byelection for his late uncle's former city council seat.

Ford resigned trustee seat Wednesday after city council voted to hold byelection

Michael Ford, the nephew of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, resigned as TDSB trustee on Wednesday to run for his late uncle's former city council seat in an upcoming municipal election. (Facebook)

Michael Ford, Rob Ford's nephew, will run in a byelection for his late uncle's former city council seat of Ward 2-Etobicoke North.

In a statement released Wednesday, the younger Ford said he resigned his position as TDSB trustee in Etobicoke North.

"I am very grateful to call Etobicoke my home," Michael Ford said in the statement.

"I was born in Ward 2, I grew up here and I hope to serve the hard working residents of North Etobicoke for many years to come."

The statement quickly followed a unanimous vote by Toronto city council in favour of a byelection to fill the seat.

Under provincial law, council was required to declare the seat vacant at its meeting this week. 

Council would then have had 60 days to decide whether to call a byelection or appoint someone to fill the vacancy. However, councillors settled that question right away.

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti said holding a byelection is the right thing to do, given that council is less than halfway through its current term.

Mammoliti, an ally of Rob Ford when he was a councillor and during his time as mayor, said he is "leaning toward" supporting the younger Ford.

"I think it's safe to say that nobody who takes the Ward 2 seat will ever be another Rob Ford, whether it's his brother, whether it's his nephew, whether it's anybody in the family," Mammoliti told CBC News. "Everyone has their own characters and does their jobs a little differently. I'm looking forward to seeing who wins."

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said the younger Ford should be judged on his own merits.

"He's not Rob Ford, he's not Doug Ford," Minnan-Wong told CBC. "He's his own man."

'Strong voice for taxpayers'

In his statement, Michael Ford said he hopes to build on his family's "legacy of public service, and that means showing up at your door when you need assistance.

"My message to the residents of Ward 2 is simple: together, we can accomplish great things for our community. I will work around the clock to bring jobs and economic development to our area. I will be a strong voice for taxpayers and fight to make our City more affordable. I will support investments in public transit and push for sustainable programs that help our communities thrive."

He also thanked Ward 2 residents for supporting his family "through thick and thin."

Ford's website outlined the three tenets of his election platform, which evoke the priorities of his uncle's time both on city council and as mayor: customer service, low taxes and "sustainable community investment."

Like his uncle, Ford vowed to respond to all pleas for help from constituents.

"I will call you back, I will return your messages, and I will come straight to your door to make sure you get the excellent level of service you deserve," his website said.

He did not respond to CBC's requests for an interview.

TDSB chair Robin Pilkey issued a statement Wednesday to say that she accepted Ford's resignation as trustee "with regret."

"Since being elected Trustee in 2014, Michael has brought a fresh, youthful perspective to our meetings and has been a vocal advocate for the communities he represents," Pilkey said.

"On behalf of all Trustees, I want to wish Michael the very best of luck as he looks to continue representing those communities at Toronto City Hall."

'A lot of stuff to address and fix'

Andray Domise, a financial planner who ran against Ford in the 2014 election, tweeted Wednesday evening that he will not run in the byelection.

"Ultimately, I have to put my commitment to youth and the community ahead of ego," Domise tweeted. "Best of luck to those who run for the Ward 2 council seat."

He added: "All of you have big shoes to fill."

Earlier, Domise had said there are many issues in Ward 2 that demand urgent attention.

"The Woodbine Racetrack is going to be expanding. There needs to be a community benefits with them. Seniors are having a hard time finding services. We have some issues with transit," he said.

"There's a lot of stuff to address and fix. I'm doing what I can as a private citizen."

Council's vote for a byelection followed calls for such a move by Toronto Mayor John Tory.

"I think that's the responsible way to proceed in light of the fact that we're less than halfway through the term," Tory told reporters at city hall. Tory said the byelection could happen as early as July.

Ford fulfilled less than half of his four-year term when he died on March 22.

Doug Ford, Rob's older brother, had previously said he or his nephew would run for the seat if a byelection was called.

The city has previously estimated the cost of a byelection to be between $150,000 and $200,000. Now that council has voted for a byelection, the city clerk is required to set a nomination date within 60 days. Voting day must be 45 days after nomination day.

If council had decided to fill the vacancy by appointment, it would have had to establish its own rules on how to do so, since there are no procedures laid out in either the City of Toronto Act or the Municipal Elections Act.