A lot of things are stinking up ward 19 Trinity-Spadina: piles of poop in Trinity Bellwoods Park - Toronto's largest off-leash area, the ongoing slaughter at the Wellington abattoir, memories of trash piled in Christie Pits and the shameless campaigns from a some of nine contenders hoping to fill Joe Pantalone's shoes.
Sure, these races attract plenty of also-rans, but it boggles the mind how little some candidates even bother familiarizing themselves with city issues. Voters here, thankfully, still have a reasonable choice between Mike Layton and Karen Sun.
If Layton's name rings a bell, it's because he's the son of federal NDP leader Jack Layton. That struck a chord with those attending the St. Matthias Parish Hall debate Monday night when contenders were asked to declare political leanings.
"I am a card carrying member and have worked with the NDP for years," admitted Layton as the capacity crowd jeered. Luckily for him, he's battling in a traditionally progressive-minded riding and has cred beyond a recognizable name. As he brought up his non-partisan work in protecting the Green Belt and Oak Ridges Moraine, the crowd calmed down noticeably.
Sun, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO), definitely comes with less party baggage, but isn't devoid of it.
Where Layton says he's voting for Joe Pantalone, and in turn enjoys the mayoral hopeful's nod, Sun doesn't divulge her mayoral choice. "I'm undecided, but I'd be happy to work with anyone who gets elected," she says.
Both are in sync on the importance of local food, and transit solutions in the face of increased condo density on Queen and King. Both are also cyclists and agree that arterial bike are critical.
But, there's so little separating the candidates that Joe Cressy, Layton's campaign chair, points to the fact that his candidate has all the progressive endorsement eggs in his basket.
Besides Pantalone and daddy Jack, thumbs up come from area MPP Rosario Marchese, and MP Olivia Chow. Author/environmentalist Rick Smith, meanwhile adds an eco boost to Layton - no slouch himself as former Executive Director of Environmental Defence.
Cressy's is a valid argument, he adds that Layton's dedication, community groundwork also separates him. In addition to work with Environmental Defence, he coordinates the Green Energy Act Alliance, the Water Guardians Network, and is VP on the board of Freshwater Future.
Adds Cressy, Layton is set to announce his latest endorsement from CHIN's Lenny Lombardi, who hopes to see the candidate continue Joe Pantalone's College Street chats in front of the Italian broadcaster's HQ.
What's interesting is that breadth and depth of experience are, in turn, what Sun's camp tout as separating her from Layton.
She's run a non-profit, worked with the Colour of Poverty Campaign, Good Jobs for All Coalition, helped set up Black Creek's Urban Farm, serves on the board of Heritage Toronto, the Conservation Council of Ontario and has served on Toronto's Roundtable on the Environment.
Her endorsements include trade unionists, OPSEU members, Tam Goossen, Winnie Ng, Dave Meslin and Judy Rebick.
The only wedge between the progressive duo seen at Monday's debate was around the Ossignton Ave. moratorium on bars. Layton acknowledged the complexity of the party-time prohibition.
"We want to encourage development, but we also want to make sure that our communities are liveable," he said.
Sun, however, flat out disagrees with the moratorium. "The main complaints of noise, parking and rowdy behaviour - those problems persist today. I would address the problems by using the noise bylaw and ask officers to do patrols particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights." So residents would love to have more bars balanced with roving cop patrols? That sure sounds like the current Entertainment District.
But back to the lefty split. The last thing anyone wants here is an even vote division between the two, thereby opening some up-the-middle space for a big question mark.
Enter the right leaning Sean McCormick.
"One word: change," is how the former Sportsnet sportscaster responds when asked to distill himself for the voting public.
McCormack brings up the Liberty Village pedestrian bridge as his transit gem. He discounts talk of a Downtown Relief Line as "pie-in-the-sky".
The slick, well-heeled handsome TV-man does plant some more nuggets in the debate. He paints Ossington from five years ago as a "no-fly zone". "Prostitution, drug dealing, crime - it was all part and parcel of the bars that were littering the area," he says.
Earlier in the evening he slagged David Miller and unions over the garbage strike: "Miller was pandering to the needs of the union. He continues to put the needs of the union ahead of Toronto residents."
Captain Change wasn't done. He made sure you knew he didn't want bikes on arterials, and gave his solution to cleaning up Queen and Bathurst: "policing. The budget went up six per cent, so let's get six per cent more policing on streets."
TV parachute types tend to get more replay time than they deserve, and he's no exception.