On November 13, no fewer than 38 mayoral candidates vie for this city's top job. The beauty of municipal elections is that anyone who can fill out a form can run, so you never know what you're going to find when you check out candidate websites.
The obvious place to start is with the billion-dollar man himself, David Miller. At www.millerformayor.ca, his staffers have created a truly excellent campaign video along with some PDF ads with tags like "Same Great Mayor, Same Great Hair."
His site intro can be accessed in 15 different languages and, although his blog is kept updated by a handful of staffers, a section called Ask The Mayor reads like it's actually written by Miller himself.
Main opposition candidate Jane Pitfield's site (www.janepitfieldformayor.com) has far too much crammed-in 10-point Arial font explaining her positions. Attempts at Internet video consist solely of Pitfield sitting in her office talking to the camera about transportation or crime.
She's posted it on YouTube in an admirable bid to appeal to the tech-savvy, but a quick YouTube search for Miller reveals not only his glossy campaign infomercial but also some candid vids of him shooting a fake cannon at the Gardner and mixing a cocktail at a local bar. These make far better use of the site's spontaneous nature than posed videos.
Pitfield's blog page has been removed in recent days, after one of her staffers got busted cutting and pasting one of John Lorinc's articles into the blog from the excellent Spacing Magazine election coverage at www.spacing.ca/votes. Other Spacing posts, courtesy of publisher Matt Blackett, are incisive and easy to read due to topic tags that allow for easy surfing.
It's annoying that most election websites, including Miller's and Pitfield's, offer no information on how or where to vote on election day. Stephen LeDrew's site (www.strongmayor.com) smartly provides a link to www.toronto.ca/elections, where you'll find everything you need to know about the logistics of voting.
LeDrew's odd choice of domain name came at a price. A few weeks ago, surfers who went to www.stephenledrew.com and www.stephenledrew.ca found a condescending page proclaiming "Domain Name Advice For Toronto Mayor Wannabes." Now those URLs lead to his (pretty lacklustre) site.
Those interested in the fringe element can check out the complete list of candidates at local gadfly Dave Meslin's excellent website, www.whorunsthistown.to. The suffix ".to" speaks volumes about this site's dedication to Toronto.
From this list, voters can link to sites for candidates like Parkdale resident Hazel Jackson (www.myspace.com/hazeljnuts), whose photo shows her playing the accordion on the streetcar while Alphaville's Forever Young loops in the background.
One of my favourite underdogs is Shaun Bruce, a 22-year-old student (www.uoguelph.ca/~sbruce01). Bruce actually writes his own blog and was on The Dean Blundell Show recently, which should get him some slacker cred. His site is clean and sharp, with details of his goal to expand Toronto Hydro's current 6-square-kilometre WiFi network to cover the entire megacity.
This quote from Gerald Derome's site (www.groups.msn.com/mayormetoronto) show how endearing an open-candidacy system can be: "I participated in the Who Runs The City at the St. Lawrence Centre. I had two, 30 second, wordings ready. I chocked [sic], so here they are now."
There's no lightheartedness on Bob Smith's site (www.natparty.com). As secretary of the Nationalist Party of Canada, Smith says he'll "bring a White Nationalist perspective to Toronto City Hall." In a blog page containing over 38,000 words, he boasts of his achievements in planning European Heritage Week and of writing a letter to police Chief Bill Blair deriding the group Anti-Racist Action as a "dangerous group of urban terrorists."
You can end on a bright note, though, by checking out Scott Yee (www.scottyee.blogspot.com), whose entire campaign seems to consist of a Web-based blog. If you miss him this time, don't worry, he's running for president of Earth in 2010.