Ana Bailao confirms she’s running for mayor
Published Friday, March 17, 2023 5:34AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 17, 2023 9:04AM EDT
The race for Toronto's top job is heating up as former councillor Ana Bailao has officially announced she is running for mayor.
Bailao confirmed her run to CP24 Friday.
Since the mayor's office came up for grabs following the resignation of John Tory, Bailao had been cited as one of the possible contenders for the job. Two weeks ago, she told CP24 she was eyeing a possible run for mayor.
“I love the city and I'm very thankful that my parents brought our family here and that I can still call it home to this day,” Bailao said. “When I arrived, I really felt a sense of opportunity and safety and really a sense that the city worked. I think that's what made me feel like I belonged here.”
Many people don’t feel that way anymore though, she said.
“People feel like services are not working for us.”
She pointed to the TTC as her main example.
“We need to restore confidence in the TTC. We need to make sure that people don't wait half an hour for a bus and then it takes two for them to get into the bus that they are able to know that they're going to get to work on time, that they feel safe,” Bailao said.
She said another priority will be making sure that Toronto gets a fair deal with the province.
“It’s really important to get a fair plan for Toronto, making sure that the Gardiner and DVP, that our highways that only Torontonians pay for their maintenance, that the province takes back that responsibility,” Bailao said. “You know, these were highways that were provincial highways up to the 90s. They were downloaded to Toronto. And unlike any city around us, we're the only taxpayers that are paying for the maintenance of these highways that are used by everybody in the region.”
While former mayor John Tory made the same case and was unable to get the provincial government to take back financial responsibility for the highways, Bailao said she would be able to do so because she’s running on the point and would therefore have a mandate from voters which the province couldn’t ignore.
“I will have the mandate to restore services in the City of Toronto and getting a fair deal for Toronto and that starts with the uploading of the Gardiner and the DVP,” Bailao said.
While she acknowledged that the province has come to Toronto’s rescue financially through the COVID-19 pandemic – “credit where credit is due” – she said Toronto services are “in crisis” and the city needs a plan to fix them in conjunction with other governments.
She also said that she would work with the province to make good on its housing target of 280,000 new homes in Toronto.
Despite an increasingly crowded list of potential mayoral candidates, Bailao said she’s not worried about the competition.
Her candidacy marks her return to politics after a brief absence. She left city hall last year after deciding not to seek re-election. Bailao had represented the residents of Davenport since she was first elected in 2010.
During her 12-year tenure, Bailao was the city's housing advocate and served as deputy mayor. She was a key ally of Tory during his time in office.
Bailao is the latest notable challenger to throw her name in the hat. Her former fellow councillor Giorgio Mammoliti also announced on Wednesday that he would vie for the mayor's seat. Urbanist Gil Penalosa, who finished second behind Tory last fall election, has also said he will run again.
Meanwhile, other high-profile names who have said they are exploring the possibility of becoming the head of city council include Scarborough MPP Mitzie Hunter, former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders and current councillors Brad Bradford and Josh Matlow.
The city clerk has set June 26 as the date for the mayoral byelection, with nominations opening on April 3. The last day for filing candidacy is on May 12.
All dates are pending approval from city council, which still needs to declare the mayor's seat vacant and formally call for a byelection at a meeting later this month.