Nick Mantas, Karygiannis’ former chief of staff, wins Scarborough-Agincourt byelection
TORONTO -- Nick Mantas has won the byelection for Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt, filling the vacant seat previously occupied by his previous boss Jim Karygiannis who was removed as councillor over his 2018 election campaign expenses.
According to the city’s election results website, Mantas, who served as Karygiannis’ chief of staff, received 3,261 votes (26.98 percent), with 41 of the 41 polls reporting. In second place is Toronto District School Board Trustee Manna Wong who got 3,038 votes (25.13 per cent).
Toronto Mayor John Tory congratulated Mantas late Friday evening, saying he is looking forward to working with the councillor-elect.
“This is a crucial time for our city as we continue to face the challenge of COVID-19. I know Councillor-elect Mantas is committed to helping our efforts as a City government to confront this virus and make sure the residents and businesses of Scarborough-Agincourt get through these extremely tough times.
“I also look forward to working with Mr. Mantas on the prudent management of the City’s finances and on the maintenance of strong partnerships with the other governments,” Tory said in a statement.
According to his campaign website, Mantas, who also worked as a federal constituency assistant and a policy advisor to the Senate, has lived in the area for 20 years.
“I have worked in our community for the last 15 years, serving our community,” Mantas said in an interview with Scarborough Civic Action Network before the election.
“I’m aware of the issues of the community and try now to take the step further and work with our community and our neighbours to make Scarborough-Agincourt a better place to live, play and work.”
The city clerk will make the election result official next week.
Election deemed essential
Days before the election, at least one candidate called for the byelection to be postponed due to a provincial stay-at-home order and an emergency declaration that came into effect this week. He said the order would discourage voters from casting their ballots.
However, the city said the election had been deemed an essential government function and would proceed as planned. In a tweet Friday morning shortly after the polls opened, the city said that it was “confident that the voting place health & safety measures will keep electors, candidates, scrutineers & election staff safe.”
Voters were asked to wear masks, maintain physical distance from others and follow other health measures in place at voting stations.
According to the unofficial results, more than 12,000 votes were counted on Friday. The city said 2,227 people cast their ballots in advance voting that was held last week, and more than 4,000 mail-in ballot packages were sent out.
In the 2018 municipal election, 27,314 votes were tallied in Ward 22 – a 40 per cent voter turnout.
Karygiannis legal battle
Councillors voted to hold a byelection to select a new councillor for the ward after the Supreme Court of Canada in September decided not to hear Karygiannis’ appeal, removing him permanently from his council seat.
He was first booted from city council in November 2019 when City Clerk Ulli Watkiss said a review found that Karygiannis overspent on his 2018 campaign by nearly $26,000, most of it related to a post-election party for donors at Santorini Grill in Thornhill.
According to The Municipal Elections Act, a person’s seat is vacated if they are found to have exceeded their spending limits.
Karygiannis fought the decision in court and won. A Superior Court judge returned him to office, finding that he “acted in good faith” and that removing him from office under the circumstances would be “absurd.”
However, that decision was overturned by an appeal court in June 2020, booting Karygiannis off his seat again.
In August, a judge decided that Karygiannis could continue serving as councillor while he appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The country’s highest court declined to hear his case the next month, ending his legal battle.