1. Eglinton-Lawrence (Ward 15)
It's wide open now that long-time incumbent Howard Moscoe dropped a bomb Tuesday, August 31, announcing he isn't running for re-election. He's reportedly set to endorse Josh Colle. But here, Catholic School Board trustee and former city of York councillor Rob Davis, who's running on a law-and-order platform, seems to have the early inside track despite his Tory party leanings, thanks in part to a political presence in the area that goes back to pre-amalgamation days.
2. Trinity-Spadina (Ward 19)
Environmentalist Mike Layton (son of federal NDP leader Jack, pictured) has outgoing incumbent and mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone's endorsement but isn't the only one with lefty credentials here. Karen Sun, on Better Ballots' list of candidates to watch, boasts experience as executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council (Toronto chapter) as well as stints on the boards of Heritage Toronto and the Working Women Community Centre. Sportsnet TV hunk and Queen West Musicfest founder Sean McCormick hasn't got as compelling a community track record but has attracted some early media attention.
3. Davenport (Ward 18)
Incumbent Adam Giambrone's ill-fated run for mayor leaves a dog's breakfast. No fewer than 10 candidates are registered to run here, including former Giambrone EA Kevin Beaulieu, whose main opposition is shaping up to be Ana Bailão, who ran in 2003 and came in second, Hema Vyas, a past president of the June Callwood Centre for Women and Families, and Frank de Jong, former Ontario Green party leader. The big question for Beaulieu: can he outrun the stink of Giambrone's unceremonious exit and win over those in the ward the councillor alienated while in office? This one may come down to ethnicity. Some 25 per cent of the ward's constituents are Portuguese speakers.
4. Scarborough Southwest (Ward 35)
This one may go down as the nastiest race in the campaign - again. Already, anonymous flyers are making the rounds. There are 11 candidates on the ballot, but it's a two-horse race between incumbent
Adrian Heaps and political consultant Michelle Berardinetti, wife of area Grit MPP Lorenzo. Berardinetti lost by 89 votes to Heaps last time in a scratch-and-claw affair that ended in a recount and Berardinetti filing a libel suit. Council's decision to reimburse Heaps's legal fees ended in more grief for Heaps, who eventually declined the money. Call it political chill. Berardinetti is calling herself the clear choice for change, but it's also clear she'll be banking on some old-time Liberal party connections to put her over the top this time.
5. St. Paul's (Ward 22)
Enviro activist turned Toronto school board trustee Josh Matlow (pictured) has the Liberal party machine behind him and area Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett in his corner, and that's gold in this riding. (It was Bennett who gave another ambitious go-getter named Michael Bryant his start in politics here). But it's by no means a cakewalk for Matlow, whose penchant for headlines and right-wing leanings (he opposed black-focused schools) has a tendency to turn off voters. His main opposition is former incumbent Michael Walker's EA, Chris Sellors, who's no slouch but will have to rely on his base in the north end of the riding to have a chance. He could help his cause by supporting the Eglinton LRT, but like Matlow, he's pushing for a subway along Eg.
6. York West (Ward 8)
To call Peter Li Preti's candidacy in York West a political comeback is a stretch. He served on council for more than 20 years, starting in North York in 85, before he was defeated in 2006 by Anthony Perruzza in a seamy affair that involved allegations of dirty tricks and ended with the city clerk's department dispatching off-duty cops to police voting. Perruzza's own return to municipal politics after a stint as NDP MPP hasn't been a headline grabber, but has nonetheless been marked by a progressive brand of politics that has won him influential appointments to the TTC and Toronto Community Housing boards.
7. Toronto-Danforth (Ward 29)
Retiring councillor Case Ootes barely hung on here last time, winning by 20 votes, and his Tory replacement, Jane Pitfield (yes, the one who ran for mayor and lost) will be in a tough race against Mary Fragedakis (pictured), who has won endorsements from all the lefties who matter here: sitting area MPP Peter Tabuns, Beaches MPP Michael Prue and federal MP Jack Layton. Pitfield's selling experience, but another factor working against her is the fact that her natural turf is next door in Don Valley West, the area she used to represent as councillor.
8. Toronto Centre-Rosedale (Ward 27)
It's anybody's guess. A dozen candidates are on the ballot, and as many as three are real contenders. Outgoing councillor Kyle Rae is endorsing former copper turned political adviser Ken Chan. Mayor-in-waiting Adam Vaughan has Kristyn Wong-Tam's (pictured) back. Wong-Tam's also got street nurse Cathy Crowe and Michele Landsberg on her side. Simon Wookey is carrying the Libs' hopes. He's got the support of MPP Greg Sorbara, among others. Should be interesting.