I’ve been watching the mayoral race from afar, and with disbelief. When Smitherman announced his candidacy in January I thought it was a slam dunk (with the possible caveat of everybody’s favorite #2, John Tory, throwing his hat into the ring again). Smitherman seems to be a more moderate David Miller with better ties to the Provincial and Federal governments. The last bit is key because these larger bodies are famous for denying big infrastructure/transit funding to Toronto, whereas most major US cities get much more federal and state help (some even getting a share of sales tax, something Miller campaigned for but lost).
When Rossi stepped in I thought he would be a Smitherman clone given their histories in the Liberal party but turned out to take populist Tory ground, railing against bike lanes and…well, I gather it’s mostly the bike lanes he’s upset about. If London and NYC can do bike lanes I’m sure our little Colonial Metropolis can manage just fine, even if it means clogging up Rosedale’s Driveway. Full marks for Rossi’s use of social media even if I don’t like the message.
I’m not sure what I can say about Rob Ford, but his campaign has been run 5x more professionally than I expected and has been 10x more successful. This guy is basically a Canadian Tea Partier.
After 5 years in Toronto, my read is that it’s a fundamentally world class city with an inferiority complex. Toronto is the same size as Chicago, LA, Houston and Dallas and the #2 financial center in North America, and I think we need to think a bit bigger in order to assert that. Toronto property taxes are much lower than neighbouring suburbs so there should be some room to tax-and-spend our way forward (something Miller was OK with). 2009 average Toronto property taxes were $2334, vs. $3461 in Oakville and $3314 in Oshawa. The 416 is a bargian.
Is our global profile higher now than it was in 2003? I think it is, so let’s keep going. While I’d love to see the TTC turned around (electronic fare cards; fewer employees paid a market wage; a Downtown Relief Line) I think Ford and Rossi are too focused on small oeprational items rather than big-city vision. Don’t forget that Toronto is competing with London UK for talent, not London ON.
Thoughts? Predictions? Has anyone actually met a non-Albertan planning to vote for anyone but Smitherman?