Vaughan mayoral candidate and former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca got a boost to his campaign Thursday with an endorsement from outgoing Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua.
At an afternoon event, Bevilacqua said that during his three terms as mayor he often worked closely with Del Duca, particularly during the latter's time as minister of transportation in the government of former premier Kathleen Wynne.
"I think he's the best candidate," Bevilacqua told CBC Toronto.
Bevilacqua has been a popular mayor over his 12 years in office. In the 2018 municipal election, he won more than 70 per cent of the vote. His closest rival secured just over 26 per cent in that contest.
Before being elected, Bevilacqua spent 22 years as a federal Liberal MP.
Del Duca is running against six other candidates for the mayor's seat. He announced his candidacy in August, a little more than two months after he resigned as leader of the Ontario Liberals after a catastrophic showing in this year's provincial election.
In that June 2 vote, Del Duca failed to win back the riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge and his Liberals managed to win only eight seats, not enough for official party status at Queen's Park.
At the event Thursday, the pair unveiled what they are calling the "Bevilacqua-Del Duca Accord" — a list of 10 priorities that Del Duca has promised to carry over to his term if he is elected on Oct. 24.
"The conversations I'm having with people, they do recognize that we've had an incredible 12 years under Bevilacqua and they want that to continue," Del Duca said.
Other mayoral candidates in Vaughan expressed frustration that Bevilacqua is publicly trying to tip the electoral scale in Del Duca's favour.
"It's not surprising to me, but it's very disappointing to me," said Sandra Yeung Racco, a five-term Vaughan city councillor now vying to be mayor.
"I can't believe our mayor, who I've been working with for the last 12 years and we have achieved so many different projects together, is endorsing someone with zero — zero — municipal experience."
Bevilacqua said he feels a responsibility to let voters know about where he stands.
The other candidates running for mayor in Vaughan are: