Race for city council positions begins today
Posted By MICHAEL-ALLAN MARION
The returning office at city hall will be a busy place today when three mayoral candidates and some council contenders are expected to file their nomination papers on the first official day of the Oct. 25 municipal election campaign.
Coun. Mark Littell will file his papers for the mayor's race early in the morning, then hold a news conference and reception at his William Street home at 11:30 a.m.
"I'll be laying out some of my platform at that time," the first-term councillor said over the weekend.
"I'm optimistic for the city. I have a strong track record to show for my three years as a councillor, as well as previously in the private sector and leading several volunteer organizations."
Also expected to enter the mayor's race officially this morning is six-term Coun. John Sless.
"I'll just file my papers for now," he said. "My campaign will unfold shortly after that according to a laid-out plan."
Coun. James Calnan also confi rmed on the weekend that he's running for mayor . He expects to bring his papers to city hall today, too, with a formal campaign kickoff to follow shortly.
"We have a lot of issues that we need to either take up or finish in the next four years," he said.
"They include meeting the challenges of the new economy, changes in our population and the needs of the elderly. They will need bold new thinking, and I believe I'm the man for the job."
The three contenders are moving early because they can't raise or spend money on their campaigns until they have filed their papers.
Former councillor and builder Mike Quattrociocchi declared his intention to seek the top job months ago. But he said on the weekend that he would wait till March to file his papers and comment publicly.
"I'm going to finish my development on Grand River Avenue first," he said of a controversial housing division he has been building in stages.
It is widely speculated that Mayor Mike Hancock won't run again after two terms in the chair, but he is facing entreaties from several quarters -including among the ranks of council -to consider a third run.
"I'd like him to stay on because he's been a very good mayor, but we shouldn't push him because he deserves to take it easy if he wants after all his hard work over the years," Coun. Richard Carpenter said of Hancock who, by the end of this term, will have spent 22 years in office, including 15 as councillor.
"I think Mike has been one of the most honourable politicians I have ever met."
Hancock himself is sticking to his position that he will make up his mind and announce his intentions when he is ready.
Meanwhile, voters can expect a multitude of fresh advocacy voices, some return forays and more female candidates in the council seat races, in what is expected to be a hotly contested election, ward by ward.
Here's a quick roundup of the early candidates and touted contenders:
Seats in this ward could be keenly contested, because both incumbents will vacate them - Littell's due to his mayoral run, and Jennifer Kinneman's due to her decision not to run again.
"I have enjoyed this time, and I feel good about the groundwork that has been laid," Kinneman said.
But she came to the conclusion that it would not be possible to pursue a busy professional career, raise two small children and be a full-time councillor in what is still considered a part-time position, and do all three well.
"So I have decided with a heavy heart not to run again."
Mary Ellen Kaye, a teacher, environmental advocate and early champion of a waterfront master plan, says she will file her papers today.
"It's going to take a long time to knock on all the doors in my ward, so I need to get started early," said Kaye.
"When I first began years ago to advocate for things at city hall, I was looking for someone I could endorse in my ward, but it didn't happen. So I decided I'd have to run myself."
Larry Kings, a retired businessman and former two-term councillor, is also joining the ward race after finishing a stint as chairman of the city's police services board.
He said he expects to file his papers within the next week.
Sless's mayoral run will create one open seat, but the other incumbent, Coun. Vince Bucci, has confirmed that he is running again for a fifth term.
"I enjoy being on council and I believe I have a good record advocating on behalf of my constituents," he said. "I believe I'm making a contribution and council needs some members with experience."
Richard Wright, a businessman and lecturer, is known to be contemplating a second run in the ward, after a first unsuccessful one in the 2006 election. But he has not made a formal decision.
Both incumbent councillors, Greg Martin and Dan McCreary, will seek reelection.
"There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on brownfields, the landfill gas power generation project and in keeping city finances under control," said Martin, chairman of the finance committee.
"The biggest challenge ahead of us is fixing the financial mess this council has created," said McCreary. "We need to learn the meaning of the word 'No.'"
A strong challenge could come from Debi Dignan-Rumble, an administrator of numerous social agencies over the years, including her current position as program co-ordinator of the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre.
With her terms on the police services board and the community advisory committee on disability issues ending this year, "my plate is clearing, but I'm not fully decided yet," she said.
"I'm closer than I was a few months ago."
Calnan's decision to run for mayor will create an opening in one seat.
Former councillor Dave Wrobel says he will attempt a return and will file his papers this week. He earlier served for one complete term and most of another until he was forced to resign in 2006 for health reasons.
"I believe there's an opportunity to bring grace, integrity and teamwork back to the council table," he said.
Meanwhile, five-term incumbent Carpenter says he wants to run again.
"I enjoy working for my constituents," he said. "I'm one of those councillors who still believes my job is to work for them. If they'll have me again, I'll be happy to serve."
Coun. Marguerite Ceschi-Smith will seek a sixth term in her seat, rather than take up calls from many quarters to run for mayor.
"I am gratified to have received so many calls and offers of support, but I believe I should continue to concentrate my efforts on the Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield project and the waterfront master plan we're working on," she said. "Both are so important to the future of our community."
Coun. John Bradford has not announced whether he will run for a second term. He was unavailable for comment.
Political columnist and political affairs broadcaster Tim Philp acknowledges that he has been under "intense pressure" for some time to run for council in Ward 5, where he ran unsuccessfully in the 2000 election.
"I'm happy with what I'm doing as a columnist," he said. "I believe that I play a positive role in the community in my present position, but at this point I have not made a decision."