Mayoral candidate Richard Underhill blew our minds in 2012 by performing Spadina Bus — on a Spadina bus. (photo from shuffledemons.com)
At 8:30 on Thursday morning, registration opened for the City of Toronto's 2014 municipal election. At 8:31 am, Mayor Rob Ford filed his papers to run.
But he's not the only person who jumped in right out of the gate. Here are some of the more interesting figures who registered to run for mayor or council in the two days nominations have been open:
Don Andrews (running for mayor): The moment Don Andrews signed up, Rob Ford was no longer the worst person vying for the job. Andrews - a perennial candidate who received 1,032 votes in 2010, 1,220 votes in 2003, and 1,985 votes (third place!) in 1997 - is a neo-Nazi and proud white supremacist. On his site, he shares thoughts on Ford's response to the ice storm, Anchorman 2, and Jews. From a 2010 profile on blogTO: "I asked him whether he considers himself a Nazi, and he told me he's a racist first. 'Call me what you want, just not late for dinner,' he joked." His feelings on the current mayor are mixed: on the one hand, he opposes his "austerity crap"; on the other hand, he considers Ford "the white man's hero in Toronto."
Al Gore (running for mayor): It is a man named Al Gore. He is running for mayor. You have to show ID when you register, so we know it's his real name.
Diana-De Maxted (running for mayor): A septuagenarian in a motor scooter, Maxted intends to advocate for seniors and those with disabilities. In an interview shortly after her registration, she says she wants to get across the message that "you haven't lost your voice, [just] 'cause something in your body goes." This'll be her third time running, following bids in 2000 (2,128 votes) and 2006 (1,311 votes). She's realistic and earnest about her chances: "If I'm in the top 10, I would appreciate it very much."
Richard Underhill (running for mayor): The saxophonist-about-Kensington is best known as a member of the Shuffle Demons, the jazz funk outfit that immortalized the TTC's Spadina Bus in the mid-1980s. (Seriously, if you've never seen the music video, just take the four minutes to watch it.) More recently, he performed an instrumental Van Morrison cover at the state funeral for Jack Layton. Though on record declaring, "And the LRT / Well, that's not for me," his opinions have grown more nuanced in the last three decades, as he now supports an LRT line for central Scarborough (as opposed to the "costly subway that has yet to have an environmental assessment"). He states that if he's "not in a position to win near voting day, [he'll] drop out and support the most viable progressive candidate."
Gord Perks, Joe Mihevc, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Michelle Berardinetti, and Paul Ainslie (running for councillor, wards 14, 21, 32, 35, and 43, respectively): So far, these are the only incumbent councillors who've registered for re-election. I caught up with Perks as he was putting his papers in, but because I already know where he stands on virtually every issue, I decided to instead ask him how he thinks Angel compares to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the series from which it spun off. (Perks makes an effort to rewatch Buffy, in its 140-episode entirety, every single year.) He says Angel is darker, more male, and suffers from two really weak seasons, but finds the show's redemption narrative stronger than Buffy's hero narrative. He is particularly a fan of season two's Pylea arc.
Alex Mazer (running for councillor, ward 18): Mazer is a Harvard-educated lawyer, former director of policy for Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan, and professional management consultant. He is also a co-founder of Better Budget T.O., an initiative to create broader and more meaningful public engagement in the municipal budget process. His resumé is exquisite, though omits mention of his work on Michael Ignatieff's Liberal leadership campaign. From Ignatieff's recent Fire And Ashes: "It took a year, between October 2004 and December 2005, to engineer my return [to Canada from the U.S.]. During that time, the team that the men in black had promised began to take shape. ... Thick briefing books on public policy issues - health care, energy, jobs - began to arrive in the mail, prepared by young policy thinkers like Alex Mazer..." Whether this history works for or against Mazer depends on your perspective. In any case, he's attempting to run against incumbent Ana Bailão from the left, observing (correctly) that she supported the Ford agenda more often than she probably should have. As things stand now, her seat is reasonably safe, but two days in to the election, this may be the most interesting ward battle.
James Sears (running for councillor, ward 32): After being stripped of his medical license for sexually assaulting patients, Sears rebranded himself as professional misogynist Dimitri The Lover. When Jezebel came across him in 2008, it felt the same as Gawker's later discovery of Rob Ford did: our shame was validated as world-class. Sample headline: Dimitri The Lover's History Of Sexual Assault, Weapons Stockpiling And Psychiatric Evaluations. Incumbent Mary-Margaret McMahon isn't looking so bad.