Councillors eye possible summer vote to select new Toronto mayor
Clear rules. Concrete dates. As much runway as possible.
That's the early wishlist some city councillors are drawing up as they contemplate when to kick off the race to replace John Tory as Toronto's mayor. Some say the current timeline puts the vote somewhere between early June and July.
But the precise timing of voting day remains unclear after Tory's shocking resignation in the wake of a sex scandal involving a former staffer. Council is waiting for a report from the city clerk and must still declare Tory's seat vacant after his resignation took effect on Friday at 5 p.m.
Coun. Alejandra Bravo said council will need to move quickly to set the rules and get out of the way of the coming campaign.
"I think that anyone who wants to run right now wants to have predictability," she said. "Not being clear, as quickly as possible, … could be seen as playing politics."
Council will meet on March 29 to consider a report from the clerk's office. When it declares the mayor's seat vacant, a nomination period between 30 and 60 days opens. The byelection will be held 45 days after nominations close.
Councillors or the deputy mayor could hasten that timeline by calling a special council meeting to declare the mayor' seat vacant, but thus far there is no indication that will happen.
Bravo said the city needs to work hard to ensure voters have time to get engaged in the process after a record low voter turnout in last fall's civic election.
"We saw in this last municipal election such a huge reduction in the number of people coming out to vote — 29 per cent," she said. "
That is not an endorsement ... in local government and we really want to see a robust turnout."
Coun. Gord Perks said he won't support rushing into a vote .City staff have to do a lot of work to set up the election, including hiring workers, setting polling stations and getting Toronto's voting machines ready, he said.
"A very fast election, I think, is impractical, but something before kids get out of school somewhere in June, I think makes sense," he said.
Perks said he supports having a longer nomination period, which will give campaigns enough time to dig into the issues.
"I think we are at a critical moment in the city of Toronto's history," he said.
"We've had a decade of decline and Toronto needs a robust conversation about where we go next. And I think that means giving the voters a chance to meet the candidates."
Coun. Chris Moise said running a city-wide campaign is complex and the candidates will need time to canvas and attend events across Toronto.
"My preference is to actually make sure that we have the longest runway possible," he said. "And if July is the date for the byelection, so be it."
Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie said last week that the byelection would be a massive undertaking for the city and she would follow the clerk's advice at the March 29 council meeting.
"This is going to be the largest byelection that has ever been run in Canada," she said in a statement.
"It will take some time and preparation to ensure the election is run well and that residents are confident in the results."
Meanwhile, speculation continues to swirl around who will run to replace Tory. City councillors Brad Bradford and Josh Matlow and former councillors Mike Layton and Ana Bailão have either said they're considering running or have been rumoured as possible candidates.
NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche and Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter have both said they're considering runs for the mayor's chair.
Urbanist Gil Penalosa, who placed second to Tory in the 2022 vote, has said he will run in the coming byelection.