Former longtime councilor Giorgio Mammoliti says he’s running to be mayor of Toronto.

“I love the city so much and I just dreaded and hated to see it decline over the last few years,” Mammoliti told CP24 in an exclusive interview on “Live At Noon” Wednesday.

“I think we've lost a lot. We've lost our personality,” Mammoliti said. “I think our dignity is gone in a number of different ways. Our Street dignity – we're dirty.”

Mammoliti sat on Toronto City Council from 2000 until he was defeated at the ballot box in 2018. As a councillor, he was known for being outspoken and offering up a number of headline-grabbing suggestions over the years.

He said he wants to come back to run for mayor and “use my 30 years of experience to dramatically change things for the better.”

He said that would include “listening to families” and businesses.

“COVID has been a disaster for us for business. We haven't listened to the business owners. We've told them what's best for them,” he said.

He said he’d also like to work to increase the stock of affordable housing and to change drug policy in the city.

“We've chosen to watch people take drugs as opposed to saving their lives,” he said, referring to safe injection sites.

Prior to getting into local politics, Mammoliti served as an MPP in Ontario’s NDP government in the early 90s. He ran for mayor in 2010, but pulled out of the race before Election Day. In 2018 he said he planned to run as a PC candidate in Brampton Centre, but backed away from the idea a short time later.

More recently he ran to become mayor of Wasaga Beach last year, coming in third.  

Mammoliti was no stranger to controversy during his years on council. He was docked three months pay by council in 2014 after the integrity commissioner found he broke the code of conduct in connection with a fundraising dinner in his honour.

He raised eyebrows by once suggested opening a red light district on the Toronto Islands and drew the ire of Parkdale residents in 2014 by referring to the neighbourhood as “a pedophile district.”

“Trust me, I know that some people have tried to challenge me over 30 years, integrity included,” Mammoliti told CP24 Thursday. “I'm still here. There's nothing wrong. I am here to lead. And trust me on this, I know that I can do the job and I know that I can change the policies to make everybody's life easier, including those people who can't afford to buy a home or an apartment or rent an apartment.”

The nomination period in the race to replace John Tory officially opens on April 3, but a slew of candidates have already said that they are either planning to run or exploring a possible bid.

They include MPP Mitzie Hunter and former police chief Mark Saunders. The list also includes many who are either on council or have council experience, including councillors Josh Matlow and Brad Bradford and former councillors Ana Bailao and Rob Davis.

Mammoliti said he plans to be at city hall to file his paperwork when nominations open April 3.