Former city councillor Ana Bailão to run for Toronto mayor
Former city councillor Ana Bailão said Friday that she will run for mayor in Toronto's upcoming June byelection.
"I'm running with a plan to fix our city's services, build housing, and make life more affordable," she said in a tweet announcing her candidacy.
Bailão was a councillor for 12 years from 2010 to 2022, representing Ward 9 Davenport and its previous configuration Ward 18 Davenport during that time. In her last municipal election in 2018 she won in a landslide, capturing nearly 84 per cent of the vote share.
For the last five years of her tenure at city hall she also served as one of four deputy mayors — the only woman in that group.
In an interview with CBC Toronto, Bailão said one of her top priorities would be securing what she calls a "fair deal" for Toronto when it comes to funding from the provincial and federal governments.
Key to this concept, she siad, would be transferring financial responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to the province. Those costs were downloaded to Toronto taxpayers in the 1990s, and Bailão said the city needs that money for investments in basic services like the TTC.
She said it would be fair given that drivers from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) use those highways each day, but only Toronto residents pay for them.
Former mayor John Tory had publicly floated the same idea last year only to be quickly rebuked by the government of Premier Doug Ford, which was categorical in its refusal to even consider the proposal.
Bailão said it would change the conversation if she had a strong mandate from Toronto voters.
"I think there is a difference between musing about it and running on it. And I am running on it. I am going to get a mandate from the people of Toronto," she said.
Bailão was a close political ally of Tory, often acting as his point person on the housing file before she announced in May last year that she would not seek reelection in last fall's municipal vote.
Among her other priorities would be reversing service cuts to public transit, she said.
"If we don't restore these services, there is going to be a very dark future for our TTC."
Bailão also said she would focus on building more supportive housing to help ease the burden on Toronto's overflowing shelter system.
Her decision to run comes after conversations with voters across the city who told her that life has become unaffordable while services deteriorate across the board, she added.
"I have heard that loud and clear. This is a city of opportunity. I felt it when I arrived when I was 15 years old, and I want to make sure that every 15-year-old continues to feel that way in this city," said Bailão, who came to Toronto from Portugal.
The upcoming June 26 mayoral byelection was triggered by Tory's sudden resignation last month, which came after he admitted to an extramarital relationship with a former staffer in his office.
Candidate nominations officially open on April 3 at 8:30 a.m. and close May 12 at 2 p.m.
Who's in, who's out so far
It's shaping up to be a crowded field in the race to replace Tory.
This week, former Toronto councillor Giorgio Mammoliti announced he's planning to run. Mammoliti lost his council seat in the 2018 election and moved to Wasaga Beach, where he launched an unsuccessful bid to become the mayor of that town.
Other current councillors are also positioning themselves for a mayoral run, including Josh Matlow, Brad Bradford and Stephen Holyday, though none have said definitively, like Bailao, that they're "in."
Some who ran in the last mayoral election are also set to run again, including Gil Penalosa, Chloe Brown and Blake Acton.
Then there are those currently outside the city hall orbit.
Former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders is reportedly mulling a run, while provincial politician Mitzie Hunter is also exploring options, telling Queen's Park reporters she's "thinking about it."
NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche, who represents the Parkdale-High Park area, was also rumoured to be interested in a run but said on Twitter she will not step into the race.
Plenty more Torontonians are expected to put their name forward in the weeks to come. In the last election, 31 people ran for mayor only to see Tory cruise to victory.