Miller officially endorses Pantalone for mayor
Battle lines were drawn on Wednesday as municipal heavyweights Mayor David Miller and Coun. Joe Mihevc threw their support behind rival Toronto mayoral candidates.
On the day Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul's) threw his support to George Smitherman, Miller officially endorsed deputy mayor Joe Pantalone.
"Joe Pantalone knows this city, he understands this city and he has a track record for nearly 30 years in elected office working with people from every political persuasion to build consensus in order to build Toronto," Miller said on Wednesday.
Miller served seven years as mayor and was first elected to city council in 1994.
Following Miller's announcement, Pantalone, a three-decade councillor (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), described himself as the progressive choice who intended to build on Miller's track record.
"Much accomplished, much more to be done," he said.
Miller's support for Pantalone has long been assumed; the two worked closely together while on council.
Pantalone was named deputy mayor and tasked with a number of high-profile projects, including managing Exhibition Place and rejuvenating Toronto's waterfront.
Mihevc endorses Smitherman
Mihevc's endorsement was slightly more surprising. The Miller ally on council stood behind Pantalone when he announced his candidacy in April.
"I'm here today to announce that I'm endorsing George Smitherman as mayor of Toronto," Mihevc told reporters during a news conference at the Wychwood Barns.
"Clearly a big part of my decision is that I do think that all Torontonians need to rally together to not allow Rob Ford to become the next mayor of Toronto," he said.
Ford has held a consistent lead in public opinion polling. Smitherman is considered to be in second place, while Pantalone is thought to be running third. Executive Rocco Rossi is the fourth-place candidate.
Ford has campaigned relentlessly on a conservative, populist message of "stopping the gravy train at City Hall," although he hasn't been clear on what services might be at risk.
Mihevc said there were positive reasons to support Smitherman.
"George's plan around public transit is one that I can solidly buy into," he said.
Seniors he meets during campaigning are excited about Smitherman's proposal to allow seniors to ride the TTC for free between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Mihevc said.
Smitherman put Mihevc's endorsement this way: "Joe Mihevc has figured out that in this election, a vote for Joe Pantalone is the same as a vote for Rob Ford."
He called Mihevc an "icon of progressive values."
Mihevc said Toronto is in danger of becoming a city divided into haves and have-nots. "We need to find ways to bridge that gap, and I know George Smitherman is committed to that agenda," he said.
Smitherman dismissed Miller's move, calling it the status quo endorsing the status quo.
Smitherman has picked up other endorsements. Last week, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson withdrew from the race and endorsed Smitherman, in part to blunt Ford's momentum.
Several former female cabinet colleagues of Smitherman were among the more than 100 women who signed a letter urging voters to support his candidacy. One is Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne, a Toronto MPP.
Earlier in the campaign, former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Isabel Bassett signed a letter endorsing Smitherman.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney