Toronto·Analysis

10 Battleground wards where big names will square off in Toronto election

Doug Ford's council slashing plan has set up a number of fierce battles for Toronto city council seats. Here's a look at some of the tightest races.

Oct. 22 municipal election will feature incumbent showdowns, intriguing newcomers and 2 open seats

With just 25 council seats up for grabs on Oct. 22, there will be some fierce battles in wards across the city. (Lauren Pelley/CBC)

Doug Ford's council slashing plan has set up a number of fierce battles for Toronto city council seats. Here's a look at some of the tightest races:

Willowdale, Ward 18 

Willowdale, population 118,801 and growing rapidly, will be a fascinating race to watch.

Before Premier Doug Ford's council cut, it was set to become two wards — and both seats were open for new candidates. But now it's one ward, and long-time Coun. John Filion, who won 14,128 votes in 2014, is back in the race.

He'll face 13 contenders, including: former councillor Norman Gardner, taxi industry rep Sam Moini (who appears to have Ford's support, although Ford's spokesperson did not respond to an email asking if the premier is supporting any councillors), 2014's runner-up David Mousavi, and Lily Cheng, who was part of the court challenge against the Ford government's move.

This election may also serve as a referendum on a controversial proposed redesign of Yonge Street, which would shrink the roadway and make it look more like a downtown strip.

Humber River-Black Creek, Ward 7 

It's a three-horse race to represent the diverse communities of this northern ward. 

The eccentric and bombastic Giorgio Mammoliti, known for his polarizing policy positions ranging from opening a red-light district to tearing down social housing, has been a councillor since amalgamation. Now he's up against another long-serving politician, Anthony Perruzza, who handily won his old ward in 2014 with more than 70 per cent of the vote.

Mammoliti's share in his ward that year? Less than half.

Making this race even more interesting is Tiffany Ford, a first-time candidate with grassroots connections who is currently serving as a Toronto District School Board trustee.

Toronto-St. Paul's, Ward 12 

Two popular incumbent councillors are squaring off in the new Ward 12, and there are plenty of similarities between Josh Matlow and Joe Mihevc beyond their initials.

Coun. Joe Mihevc puts forward a motion during an emergency council debate this September. (John Rieti/CBC)

Both are well-liked in their old wards, and both are known for progressive stances on civic issues.

A close race between the two is a sure thing, but will Mihevc's three decades of council experience prevail?

Or will Matlow continue his winning ways? In 2014, he won with the highest percentage of any councillor at a whopping 86 per cent of the vote.

Etobicoke North, Ward 1 

What's in a name?

Michael Ford, the premier's nephew, has served on council since winning a 2016 byelection. He'll presumably have Ford Nation's support in this ward, but there's another candidate vying for the same vote.

Veteran Vince Crisanti, who won 7,427 votes in 2014, has been a loyal Ford supporter.

Both Ford and Crisanti supported the council cut, but it will result in one of them looking for a new job.

Anti-Ford voters, meanwhile, will have to choose between five other candidates.

Toronto-Danforth, Ward 14 

Coun. Paula Fletcher takes questions from reporters during a September city council meeting. (John Rieti/CBC)

In the new Toronto-Danforth, a diverse community that was rocked by a deadly shooting rampage in July, it's a political battle between north and south.

Mary Fragedakis has represented her old ward, the northern half of the new larger ward, since 2010. Paula Fletcher has been a councillor for the southern portion since 2003.

It's shaping up to be a tight race between the two left-leaning incumbents, with each winning their old wards with an uncanny, nearly-identical ballot count: roughly 11,900 votes.

Toronto Centre, Ward 13

Kristyn Wong-Tam enters the Toronto Centre race as a heavy favourite, but the outspoken councillor does have competition.

George Smitherman, last seen politically during an unsuccessful run for mayor against Rob Ford in 2010, has entered the race.

Lucy Troisi is also running, even though when she was appointed to replace the late Pam McConnell she vowed she wouldn't seek election.

There are also 13 more candidates, but, for better or worse, it will be difficult for them to upset such an established field.

Etobicoke Centre, Ward 2 

Coun. Stephen Holyday, left, was one of seven Toronto city councillors to hold a Queen's Park news conference in support of the Ford government's plan to slash the size of council. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Etobicoke Centre could be a one of the closest races between incumbents.

Stephen Holyday, a staunch conservative voice on council, won his seat in 2014 by securing 8,086 votes.

John Campbell, a conservative whose votes are less predictable (for example, Campbell supported the King Street Pilot Project, while Holyday argued against it), won 8,227 votes.

Three other candidates, meanwhile, will be hoping the incumbents split the vote, letting them go up the middle.

Ward 15 Don Valley West

Two incumbents — both allies of Mayor John Tory — are going head-to-head in the new Ward 15 Don Valley West.

Former city staffer-turned-councillor Jaye Robinson swept her old ward in 2014 with more than 19,000 votes, which snagged her 83 per cent of the vote. The new Ward 15 contains the bulk of that voting base, but she still faces a challenge in fellow incumbent Jon Burnside.

The former police officer and entrepreneur scored roughly 9,400 votes in 2014 in his old ward, or around 43 per cent of the vote.

Open Wards

Once upon a time, believe it or not, Toronto had a chance to elect 10 new city councillors.

Voters will have to settle for two.

There are no incumbent councillors running in either Ward 19, Beaches-East York, or Ward 23, Scarborough North, this fall.

More than a dozen candidates have signed up in Ward 19. The long list includes an urban planner, a former NDP MP, a military veteran who served in Afghanistan, a former mayor of Kitchener and a various other candidates who have been working hard to get their message out.

Ward 23 also features a diverse array of contenders, from people who've worked in constituency offices to senior-level management.

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