Bonnie Crombie officially kicked off her campaign on Saturday to be re-elected as mayor of Mississauga, but will face a challenge from seven other people vying for the job.
Crombie, speaking at her campaign headquarters on South Service Road, said she wants to continue serving the city west of Toronto after eight years as mayor because she believes she offers "strong, steady, competent" leadership.
"Mississauga, the future is ours," Crombie told more than 100 supporters at a campaign open house. "We are building an incredible city. It is not the city of yesteryear, of farmland and fruit trees. We are a vibrant, dynamic, diverse and welcoming city."
Much development is underway, she said. The city is investing in public transit and continuing to attract new businesses. Mississauga is building "complete" neighbourhoods, she added.
"The face of the city has changed in the past eight years. When you see the downtown, it's becoming a very urban downtown, with a lot of towers, a lot of shopping, and culture," she said.
"We are changing the face of Mississauga."
In an interview later, Crombie said she sees housing affordability as a major election issue.
Crombie faces 7 challengers for mayoral seat
Crombie said she provided strong leadership during the pandemic, giving regular updates about COVID-19 in Mississauga on TV networks. The pandemic was different in Mississauga than it was in Toronto or Brampton, she added.
"During the pandemic, I think we gave you that level of comfort. There was certainty. There was somebody at the helm who provided that steady and strong leadership," she said.
Crombie faces seven challengers for the mayoral seat on the ballot on Oct. 24. They are: Mohsin Khan, Melodie J. Petty, Derek Ramkissoon, David Shaw, Bobie Taffe, George Tavares and Jayesh Trivedi.
At least two challengers to Crombie say the city needs change.
"There is a need for change. There is a need for a new mayor," said Ramkissoon, a businessman in Mississauga.
"I think the mayor needs to be engaged in what's going on in the city. I think this mayor is not engaged with the common people. She disconnected from the needs and disconnected from people."
Ramkissoon, also founder of In Christ Alone Ministries, a non-profit organization focused on outreach at homeless shelters and prisons, said he would freeze property tax, work to reduce crime, unite communities, empower youth through community centres, and invest in youth and children.
Issues facing Mississauga include labour shortages, housing affordability, people living paycheque to paycheque, and increasing crime, he said.
Ramkissoon, who put his name forward for mayor in 2014 after former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion retired, said he knows how to bring people together.
"People are struggling. People want somebody who cares," he said. "When we go door knocking, we are hearing that people want to see change. They want to see us out of debt, they want to see property taxes low."
Tavares, a long-time Mississauga resident and an electronic engineering technologist, said the city also needs a better direction.
"I think Bonnie has done a great job of getting us to this point," he said.
If elected, he would freeze property taxes, create better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, smarter public transit and better roads.
Tavares would work to lower traffic congestion using technology to move traffic, lower the crime rate, nurture Mississauga's identity and culture, and redesign transit using modern technologies. He would also ensure city contracts are written to prompt contractors to create less traffic and finish on time.
And he would advocate for rental control and the building of more rental apartments with a revised rent-to-own program.
"From traffic concerns to housing, our environment to the cultural insensitivities we all encounter, I am in," Tavares says on his website.
Crombie says past week difficult with deaths
In her speech, Crombie said it has been a difficult week, following the death of Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 8.
Crombie said she has been grappling with the shooting deaths of Toronto Police Const. Andrew Hong in Mississauga and auto body shop owner Shakeel Ashraf in Milton on Monday, and the death of a Mississauga transit maintenance employee in a workplace accident on Saturday.
A MiWay male employee, about 45, died while working on a bus at the Central Parkway maintenance garage, Peel Region paramedics said. According to the city, Peel Regional Police and the Ontario Ministry of Labour are investigating.
Crombie said she attended Ashraf's funeral and will attend Hong's funeral.
"It's been a devastating week. It's left a big hole in my heart," she said. "Not many of us got a lot of sleep."
She said the city must continue to stand up against hate and "not tolerate the intolerance."
Crombie was first elected mayor of Mississauga in 2014. Before that, she was city councillor for Ward 5, and previous to that, she was MP for Mississauga-Streetsville. She worked in business before getting into politics.