The race to be Toronto’s mayor has officially begun and candidates are gearing up for the campaign trail ahead of the June by-election.
On Monday, the nomination process opened for candidates and they have until May 12 to formally sign up for the mayoral election.
Former city councillor Ana Bailão was among the first candidates to put her hat into the ring this morning.
Bailão spoke with Now Toronto recently about why she’s the right choice for the job, her main goals and her thoughts on the strong mayor powers.
READ MORE: Race for Toronto’s next mayor officially begins today
Bailão previously served as city councillor for Toronto’s Davenport riding for 12 years and as Deputy Mayor for almost half of that time. She won in a landslide victory in her last municipal election in 2018, garnering nearly 84 per cent of the vote share.
However, she did not run in the previous 2022 municipal election.
“I ran three elections for city councilor in Davenport and was Deputy Mayor for five years. I did a lot of work on housing. I’m very passionate about housing and making sure that people are able to afford to live in the city and I went off to build affordable housing,” Bailão told Now Toronto.
Bailão is also a board member of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, founding board member of CreateTO and Chair of the City’s Planning and Housing Committee.
WHY SHE’S RUNNING FOR MAYOR
Bailão says she’s running for mayor because she wants to ensure that the city has somebody with leadership experience that has a plan to get services back on track to make life easier and more affordable for Torontonians.
“I love the city. I came when I was 15 to the city and I really felt this was a city that worked, a city of opportunity, of safety. I think people are feeling that the services are not working for them right now. I want to make sure that we fix the services,” she said.
TOP PRIORITIES IF ELECTED MAYOR
Bailão believes it is important to get a fair deal for Toronto and this starts with fixing services such as off-loading municipal highways. She says the province should take financial responsibility for the maintenance and the upkeep of highways such as the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway Expressways (DVP).
“These are two highways that used to be provincial highways that now only Torontonians are paying for the maintenance even though about 50 per cent of the people driving through the Gardiner into the DVP live outside Toronto,” Bailão explained.
Additionally, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is another service Bailão plans to improve.
“You can’t be waiting for a bus for half an hour and then having to see two go by because it’s too full. We need to restore the services, we need to make sure that we hire the staff in our stations, the outreach workers. We need to make sure we have the mental health supports for these people that need the support…” Bailão said.
“TTC is a core service. We know that it contributes a huge amount of money for the budget deficit that we have. How are we going to attract people back to the TTC? We need to make it safer, people need to feel safe, we need to make it convenient,” she added.
Recently, Bailão expressed her views on cell service accessibility on the TTC on Twitter.
“We can’t go into a subway and feel the safety of being able to pick up the phone and text messaging somebody. Even to use the text, the text tip line that the TTC created, we have to wait until it comes above line. That’s not acceptable. We need to make sure that we call these telecoms to come to the table.” she further explained to Now.
‘IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE MAYOR TO KEEP THOSE POWERS’
In order to achieve these priorities, Bailão intends to use the so-called strong mayor powers appointed by the provincial government which became law in Sept. 2022.
“I think that in terms of the budget and in terms of the hiring and firing of staff, to be honest with you, a lot of people thought the mayors already had those powers,” she claimed.
“I think it is important for the mayor to keep those powers. I have been able to get a lot done in particular around housing by collaborating with my colleagues. I plan to get elected on a full plan, on a full agenda that I intend to work through council and to work with the 25 councillors that are elected for city hall,” Bailão added.
In contrast to her fellow prominent competitors, she says what makes her different from the rest is her experience and leadership.
“The fact that I worked well with my colleagues at council. I work well with other orders of government, but most importantly, the ideas that I put forward and the plan to fix services, and to make life easier and more affordable,” Bailão said.
Now Toronto will be interviewing and profiling a number of mayoral candidates in the coming weeks leading up to the by-election on June 26.