Mayor's race open after Miller announcement

[attach]789[/attach]The race for mayor is wide open now that David Miller has announced he won’t run for a third term in 2010.

Mayor Miller said on Sept. 25 he would not seek re-election, citing his family as playing a big part in his decision.

“Both my children were born after I was first elected in 1994,” Miller said at his office with wife Jill Arthur, son Simon and daughter Julia by his side. “If I were to be re-elected in 2010 and serve until 2014, my daughter would be in university and my son would be about to graduate from high school.”

North Toronto councillor Karen Stintz told the Town Crier last month she is musing about her candidacy for the city’s top political job for next year’s municipal race.

She couldn’t be reached by press time for reaction to Miller’s announcement.

After his re-election in 2006, Miller said he made a private decision not to run again in 2010, though he had recently considered a third run. He met last week with his core campaign team, including John Laschinger and Patrick Gossage.

“They were excited about the campaign, confident about my record and a message we would present to the people of Toronto,” Miller said. “But after that meeting, I consulted with my family and decided I had to make this announcement today.

“Even though it’s been a difficult decision, I feel secure in my priorities, proud of my record and confident in my vision for the city I love,” he said during his laughter- and tear-filled press conference. “I have accomplished what I set out to do.”

He listed off some of those accomplishments, which included Transit City, the $10-billion expansion plan for light rail and a new fleet of buses, streetcars and subways.

Toronto is safer with crime down in every major category, he said. He noted more than 2,000 formerly homeless are now in permanent housing and there’s been investment in the city’s low-income priority neighbourhoods under his watch.

“This has always been particularly important to me as the only child of a single mother,” Miller said, tearful as he recalled his mother, who died of cancer years ago. “We are creating the kind of hope and opportunity that young people facing barriers need to succeed.”

Gossage, a political strategist, said Miller could have mounted a formidable campaign.

“Our attitude about opponents was ‘Bring ’em on’,” Gossage said in an interview hours after Miller’s announcement. “David was very strong on his record.”

But the city’s top political job comes with a lot of pressure, Gossage said.

“It’s a 24/7 job,” he said. “I think it was starting to wear on him and his family.”

Some of the people considering a run for mayor besides Eglinton-Lawrence rep Stintz include MPP George Smitherman and former Ontario PC leader John Tory.

Miller’s main opponent in the 2006 race was Jane Pitfield, who tallied 32 percent of the vote.

Pitfield said she wasn’t surprised by his announcement.

“I’ve always predicted this would happen,” she said. “I still believe he will step down before the end of this term.”

Pitfield said a reported withdrawal of support from previous campaign fundraisers and the summer strike could be behind Miller’s decision not to seek re-election.

“He had Conservatives and Liberals helping him in 2006,” she said. “I really think that the strike and … the direction he was taking the city would influence some of those people to say: ‘Enough is enough. We can’t be part of your campaign team.’ ”

Meanwhile, the former Ward 26 councillor said she has no plans to run for the top job or seek a council seat again in 2010.

In terms of potential mayoral contenders for the 2010 election, Pitfield said she wouldn’t be surprised if federal NDP Leader Jack Layton throws his hat into the ring as a candidate on the left.

“He would be quite a force because he is well-liked in Toronto,” she said.

[align=right]—with files from Karolyn Coorsh