Municipal campaigns across the province have been in full swing for months now. Next Monday, however, the race will come to an end. There are thousands of candidates running for office across the province. Most of my academic research focuses on municipal government and politics, which is why I’ve been following some of the races quite closely. I thought it might be helpful to spotlight a few that I think will be interesting on election night. If you want to follow along, here are some worth watching:
Toronto is obviously garnering most of the media attention this election cycle. The race for mayor has provided a fair amount of interest, but it is likely it won’t be as close as some suspect. By this point, it is very likely John Tory will be Toronto’s next mayor. There are, however, some very interesting ward races worth watching.
First and foremost is Ward 2, where Rob Ford is running. He’s likely going to win, but challenger Andray Domise is providing some stiff competition. Much of the polling has shown Ford with a considerable lead, but Domise argues the race is closer than most think. The chances of a Ford-free council are slim, but Ward 2 is worth keeping an eye on.
Ward 7 could see incumbent Giorgio Mammoliti defeated. Alex Mazer is a bright, young candidate who could topple incumbent Ana Bailao in Ward 18, while Ward 20 has a number of candidates competing for Adam Vaughan’s former council seat, including Joe Cressy, Sarah Thomson and Anshul Kapoor. Ward 30 should be interesting as well, as incumbent Paula Fletcher faces a stiff challenge from both the left and right in Jane Farrow and broadcaster Liz West.
Perhaps the most exciting race in Ontario is in Mississauga, where Hazel McCallion’s retirement has opened the door for a tight race between Councilor and former MP Bonnie Crombie and former MP and MPP Steve Mahoney. The race has seen both mayoral contenders run attack ads. The city’s political class has been lining up behind each as well, with endorsements coming almost daily for each candidate. Push polls have even made an appearance. Polling indicates the race is close, so keep your eye on this race as Mississauga voters prepare to elect only the fourth Mayor in the city’s 42-year history.
Across Ontario, a number of large cities will have a new mayor after October 27. In Windsor, Hamilton, Waterloo, Kitchener and London, incumbents are not running again, opening the door for new faces.
Keep an eye on Hamilton. The polls indicate the race will be tight, as former Mayor Fred Eisenberger faces off against current council members Brad Clark and Brian McHattie. Also in Hamilton, watch Wards 1, 3 and 13 where there is no incumbents running for re-election. In each, smart, young and ambitious candidates are running aggressive campaigns to make their way to council – keep an eye on Matt Green in Ward 3 and Aidan Johnson in Ward 1.
In London, young candidates also appear to be leading in two open wards. In Ward 3 and 7 incumbents have moved on. Watch Josh Morgan in Ward 7 and Mo Salih in Ward 3. Both look to be new faces on council. Also keep an eye on Jesse Helmer in Ward 4. He’s in a tough fight with incumbent Stephen Orser and just may force an upset on election night.
Further down the 401, watch the mayoral race in Windsor closely. Mayor Eddie Francis is not running again and a number of candidates are vying to replace him. Be sure to also watch Ward 10 closely, as incumbent Al Maghnieh has been embroiled in a spending scandal and is fighting for his political life. Will the power of incumbency pay off? We shall see.
Closer to home in Kitchener-Waterloo, some of the regional races should attract some interest. In the contest for Waterloo’s two regional councilors, popular former Waterloo City Councilor Karen Scian is challenging incumbents Jane Mitchell and Sean Strickland. Each is running an aggressive campaign. In Kitchener, regional councilors Tom Galloway and Geoff Lorentz are facing a similar challenge from Cameron Dearlove and former MPP Wayne Wettlaufer. Former MPs Andrew Telegdi and Karen Redman are also attempting political comebacks and running for seats on regional council from Waterloo and Kitchener respectively. Both are worth keeping an eye on.
How will the slates fare? Municipal politics in Ontario is generally non-partisan. This election, however, has featured a number of slates. First, in Hamilton a slate named “The First 100 Days” has bound together a number of school board trustee candidates under a single platform. In Guelph, two separate slates have formed around candidates for Mayor and Council. On the right, “Grassroots Guelph” is opposing Mayor Karen Farbridge’s agenda and advocating for debt reductions and lower taxes. On the left-wing side of the political spectrum a group called “We Are Guelph” has endorsed the mayor and a group of aligned candidates for council. What affect (if any) these slates have will be interesting to watch.
Will the pollsters get it right? Two polling companies, in particular, have been active across the province: Forum and Mainstreet Technologies. Some of the larger firms are polling in Toronto as well, but not outside of the city. Polling done in local elections generally have smaller samples and have been criticized by some as inaccurate. We’ll have to wait until election night to see how accurate either firm is, but comparing the results should be interesting. You can find some of Forum’s results here and Mainstreet’s here.
Election Post-Mortem Discussion
After the election, drop by Wilfrid Laurier University for the election post-mortem event on November 5. We’re welcoming former candidate for Kitchener council Ward 9 Debra Chapman (who also teaches political science at Laurier), Gabriel Eidelman from the University of Toronto, and Western University’s Andrew Sancton. This panel will analyze the results from across the province and engage in a lively discussion. Details are here.