Mayoral hopeful Coun. Karen Stintz is touting herself as a consensus builder and a public transit-minded alternative to Mayor Rob Ford in response to critics or observers who say the two share many of the same principles.

In an interview with CP24 on Monday, Stintz acknowledged that she and Ford may campaign on some of the same policies but she insisted she will be able to unify council and accomplish more if voters send her to the mayor’s chair a year from now.

“I think on the fiscal record we share the same voting,” Stintz told CP24 commentator Stephen LeDrew. “I think on other issues it’s taken more time to build consensus and I’ve been (a councillor) who’s been building consensus on council and I’m proud of the record I’ve achieved.

“You build a city by bringing people together and moving forward and there’s lots of initiatives that have started,” Stintz added. “I want to keep the momentum moving and move our city forward.”

In an apparent dig at the mayor and the controversies that have dogged him since he was elected three years ago, Stintz suggested that city hall would be free of distractions if she was mayor.

“I want to make sure that we focus on the issues and not the personalities, and that’s because that’s how we build a city and move it forward,” she said.

The mayoral race began to take shape over the weekend when Stintz announced her bid, joining Ford and former Scarborough councillor David Soknacki in a contest that officially begins when the nomination period opens Jan. 2. Candidates have until Sept. 12, 2014, to file their papers before the Oct. 27, 2014, election.

After giving reporters a tour of his Halloween-decorated office Monday, Ford said the campaign is "going to be a bloodbath," indicating he is prepared to battle opponents who target him over the many controversies that surfaced during his first term.

Ford shrugged off questions about whether he is worried about personal issues being used as political ammunition.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there," Ford told reporters.

Ford wouldn’t speak specifically about Stintz, but he said he welcomes “everyone” in the race.

“Just bring it on. I just can’t wait to get at it and start debating these people,” Ford said.

Chow, Tory are rumoured candidates

Speculation continues to swirl around NDP MP Olivia Chow and former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory. Both have confirmed to CP24 that they are considering a run.

In an interview with CP24 on Monday, Tory said he is in no rush to make a decision and it would be premature for anyone to announce a mayoral bid a full year in advance.

“I’m working on city stuff as a volunteer and I will keep doing that, and the universe will unfold as it should,” Tory told LeDrew. “I just don’t understand why everybody is sort of rushing people like me, or anybody else for that matter, to say 'Well, you have to decide now.'”

Tory said council members who are running in 2014 should spend the next six to eight months focusing on city business instead of campaigns.

Members of Stintz’s growing campaign team include Liberals and Tories but no NDP members. But it appears Stintz, a self-described fiscal conservative, is trying to convince Chow to reconsider and support her instead.

“Once Olivia Chow decides that I am the best candidate maybe she will endorse me,” Stintz told CP24 with a smile.

Stintz said she hasn’t had any discussions with Chow but a meeting “is in the works.”

The councillor's campaign is being managed by Liberal strategists Don Guy and Dave Gene, who worked for Dalton McGuinty when he was premier. Ford said reporters "will find out shortly" who is managing his campaign.

Stintz, Ford at odds over subway expansion

Stintz said she is running for mayor because she wants to maintain the city’s fiscal record, make sure that proposed transit projects are implemented, and better integrate GO Transit and TTC services to improve customer service.

Stintz, who was appointed TTC chair by Ford in 2010, wants the city’s next investment in public transit to be a downtown relief line. Ford wants to expand the subway system further into the suburbs before building a downtown relief line, telling reporters Prime Minister Stephen Harper has encouraged him to build a connection between the Sheppard line and the proposed Scarborough extension.

By announcing her bid a year before voters go to the polls, Stintz is getting the jump on most of her eventual competition.

“It’s a long campaign. It’s a year to the day, almost, that voters will be going to the polls and it’s a big city, so I want to make sure people get a chance to know who I am and what I stand for, and they feel confident that I can represent them at city hall,” said Stintz, who has represented Ward 16 (Eglinton-Lawrence) since late 2003.

On his weekly radio show Sunday, Ford said he is “absolutely salivating” over the opportunity to defend his record during the campaign.

Stintz had a less colourful response to Ford’s enthusiasm.

“It will be an interesting year ahead and I’m looking to 2014 and the issues facing the city,” she said.

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