Ward 6 candidate Russ Ford runs with polarizing last name
Russ Ford has learned not to take it personally when people slam doors in his face.
"Sometimes I get doors slammed in my face because people think I'm one of them," he said.
The Ward 6 candidate makes it clear pretty quickly — he's not related to Mayor Rob Ford and if he gets to Etobicoke voters before they slam the door, it's the first thing he tells them.
"If I get them before they slam the door, I get their vote, because I'm the anti-Ford candidate in Ward 6," said Ford, who is executive director of the LAMP Community Health Centre.
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He has a master's degree in social policy from McMaster University along with bachelor's degrees in social work and journalism. He says he's on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Mayor Ford and his brother, mayoral hopeful Doug Ford.
Michael McGregor, a politics professor at Bishop's University, says having a recognizable name is important in municipal elections because there are no identifiable political parties. It's also a factor in wards where there are many candidates.
Russ Ford says he has to weigh the good and bad that come with his last name.
"I know people are voting for me because they think I am [related] and I know people are not voting for me because they think I am [related]," he said.
It also leads to some odd experiences.
"A woman came up to me the other day and she put her hands on me like I was a religious figure, 'Oh, you're one of the Fords, how's Rob?'"
Ford says it took some convincing before the woman realized he wasn't related.
In other cases, there's no convincing people and he says he takes things as they come.
"One woman came in and donated to us," he said. Ford and others tried to tell her there was no connection, but she wasn't having it. Ford ended up taking the money.
Ford faces Ward 6 incumbent Mark Grimes and former police officer Tony Vella, Ford says he wants to push for better services in the community. He says Etobicoke hasn't elected a left-leaning progressive candidate in a long time. He wants to end that, without using the Ford name..
"I'm emphatically saying every time I talk to somebody, I'm not related. It's the first line in my literature, it's all over my website. I don't want to win that way," Ford said.