Kuitenbrouwer: Losers to winners: heed the message
Peter J. Thompson/National Post
Peter Milczyn, the incumbent in Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, was re-elected by a margin of 109 votes.
Peter Kuitenbrouwer October 27, 2010 – 6:30 am
Five sitting city councillors hung on to power by their fingernails on election day, as a wave of anger swept Toronto, and those who lost say the winners should hear the message that voters are not content with half-hearted representation at City Hall.
The results may in several cases work in favour of mayor-elect Rob Ford, with high-profile lefties such as Councillor Paula Fletcher knocked back on their heels by strong challenges from the right. The voters want tax cuts, and God help the councillors who vote to keep the taxes in place.
Ms. Fletcher, who won by just 259 votes, was not in her office at City Hall on Tuesday and did not return a request for comment; her opponent, broadcaster Liz West, also did not return calls.
In the northwest part of town, left-leaning councillor Maria Augimeri (York Centre) squeaked in by 89 votes; and Anthony Perruzza (York Centre), another New Democrat supporter, won by just 352 votes. Their opponents have not conceded the races, claiming a wide range of irregularities; even if those are cleared up, these councillors clearly are out of step with more than half of their voters and, in an election that gave penny-pincher Rob Ford a huge mandate, may need to bend with the political winds.
“The number one issue in our area was taxes,” says Peter Li Preti, who came second against Mr. Perruzza. “People are fed up with increases in water bills, electricity bills, garbage charges, vehicle and land transfer taxes. We are driving seniors out of their homes if we continue to increase taxes.”
Mr. Li Preti said his scrutineers saw busloads of voters show up at the polls between 7 and 7:30 p.m. yesterday without identification, and said the district returning officers allowed them to vote. “Our challenges fell on deaf ears,” he said.
Gus Cusimano, who came within 89 votes of defeating Ms. Augimeri, said his people witnessed broken tabulation machines and people who voted twice. “It’s not over yet,” he added. “We are huddling to launch an appeal.”
Beyond that, Mr. Cusimano said the 56% of voters who chose someone other than Ms. Augimeri are desperate for change.
“Quite clearly the community is not behind her at all,” he said. “They want change. They want somebody to represent them at City Hall. She missed 24% of the votes at city council.” Ms. Augimeri did not return a call.
Meanwhile, two councillors on the right of the spectrum had a run for their money as well.
Like some kind of pre-Halloween spectre, Councillor Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) sauntered into the Press Gallery at City Hall yesterday wearing jeans, a black leather jacket and a broad smile. We all went to bed thinking he had lost the election, but apparently he pulled it out of the fire at about 1:30 this morning, when the 1,000 ballots from a broken counting machine were finally counted.
Mr. Milczyn said a ballot-counting machine broke last night at a poll called Stonegate, north of the Queensway near Park Lawn Road, in a Polish and Ukranian neighbourhood where his support was strong. “They took the ballots out to the scrutineer’s office on Victoria Park Avenue,” he said. “So everybody went to Scarborough. My lawyer, my opponent’s lawyer, a clerk from the City Clerk’s office downtown, and two lawyers from the city.”
He said 86 ballots didn’t go through the machine initially but with a fair amount of struggle, eventually did get counted. At 1:30 he heard he had won.
“I had eight scotch last night and got kicked out of the hall,” he says. “Then we had a street party in my driveway until 4 a.m.” I asked how many cars were parked in his driveway. “That’s classified,” he said. “That bylaw is the first thing we are going to change.”
Mr. Milczyn said he will work with Rob Ford, the mayor-elect, to get his agenda through, though he also revealed that it had not been an easy decision: his wife, Rose, stopped talking to the councillor for 10 days after he came out for Mr. Ford.
And Mr. Milczyn, a TTC commissioner, added, “I had a brief sitdown with Rob. The one policy I will not support is ripping up the streetcar tracks downtown, because it doesn’t make sense. You will need more buses to make up the capacity, which means hiring more drivers, and more congestion.”
Justin Di Ciano, who came within 109 votes of defeating Mr. Milczyn, had run a campaign vowing to clean up massage parlours on The Queensway, and to clean up the low-income area of Mabelle, near Bloor and Islington Avenues.
“People in Ward 5 want change,” said Giancarlo Chiantia, a volunteer on the Di Ciano campaign.
Councillor Ron Moeser (Scarborough East), who is right of centre, won by just 286 votes in Ward 44. His main opponent, Diana Hall, said most people at the door told her they wanted a stronger voice on city council. “Ron has always been known as a local councillor — fixing potholes and sidewalks,” she said. “People say, ‘You know what? We’ve never heard his name in the paper except in being the second-highest spending councillor.”
But, unlike other losers, Ms. Hall showed grace in defeat. “I had the greatest campaign,” she said. “I met so many people in the ward. In the end it’s a success. Onwards and upwards. They say defeat builds a stronger character. Why would I be disappointed?”
By a thread
- Peter Milczyn
- Justin Di Ciano
- Anthony Perruzza
- Peter Li Preti
- Maria Augimeri
- Gus Cusimano
- Paula Fletcher
- Liz West
- Ron Moeser
- Diana Hall
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Kuitenbrouwer: Losers to winners: heed the message | Posted Toronto | National PostIn Canada on October 27, 2010 at 14:14