On October 25, 2010, Robert Ford, former City of Toronto Councillor for Ward 2 (Etobicoke North) was elected Mayor with 47% of the vote or 380,201 actual votes. George Smitherman, former Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, and Minister of Health and Long Term Care received 36% of the vote or 287,393 actual votes. Finishing third was the former Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone with 12% of the vote or 94,840 actual votes.
In what was widely anticipated to be a much closer race, Mayor-Elect Ford beat expectations from a wide variety of public opinion polls and media commentators. In addition, a record number of people voted in this municipal election—52% up from 39.3% in 2006 and higher than the previous record of 48.6% in 1997, the year Toronto was amalgamated with its surrounding boroughs. What was also generally surprising was the number of new Councillors elected—15 in total, including the Mayor-Elects brother Doug Ford in Ward 2. With 44 Councillors and the Mayor this means that a significant portion of Toronto City Council is new and inexperienced as Councillors. This will present both complex challenges and opportunities for the Mayor to advance his policy agenda.
This bulletin summarizes the key policy commitments of Mayor-Elect Ford and the organizational next steps for the Mayor-Elect as he becomes Toronto’s next Mayor.
KEY PRIORITIES AND ISSUES FOR MAYOR-ELECT FORD
- Get the city’s financial house in order. The city’s budget has increased from $5.9 billion in 2000 to $9.2 billion in 2010 with a capital budget of another $2.4 billion. Restraining operating and capital spending is Mr. Ford’s top priority. Specifically Mr. Ford will:
- Reduce by 50% the number of city staff retiring
- Reduce overall spending by 2.5% in his first year of office
- Reduce Councillors expense accounts to $30,000 annually from the current $53,000.
- Reduce the number of Councillors from 44 to 22.
- Reduce the Mayor’s office budget by 20%.
- Abolish the Vehicle Registration and Land Transfer Taxes.
- Reduce the transfer of funds from the city’s operating budget to its capital budget by $125 million in 2011 and 2012.
- Sell assets such as surplus lands to offset reductions in the capital budget (this is estimated to produce $1 billion over the next four years).
- Manage the debt by using 50% of surplus funds from the city’s operating budget ($833 million) and the net proceeds of asset sales to reduce the debt. It is estimated to reduce debt by $1.6 billion over the next four years.
Crime and Safety
- Hire an additional 100 police officers and expand the School Resource Officers program by placing an additional 30 police officers in Toronto’s schools.
- Deploy 70 additional police officers to the city’s Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy tha t targets gangs and violence in select areas in Toronto.
- Initiate a process to make garbage collection more reliable and affordable by inviting bids from both the public and private sector.
- Make the TTC an “essential service” and a more customer focused organization. This includes abandoning the current “Transit City Plan” of light rail and replacing it with subway expansions and bus service.
- Create a culture of customer service at City Hall for all employee’s.
- Ensure costs of the Mayor-Elect’s plan secure a net surplus of $1.7 billion over four years including a net reduction in spending of $525 million in 2011.
Next Steps for Mayor-Elect Ford
The first meeting of the new city council will be held in early December 2010. In the interim, the Mayor-Elect will hire staff for his office and work with his transition team, senior city staff and the incumbent Mayor to ensure an orderly transfer of power. In addition, the Mayor will consult with city councillors for various committee assignments and work with city staff to establish a committee process for selecting Chairs and other key posts on various standing committee’s.