'So much gravy still left,' Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says on anniversary of election win
Rob Ford’s scandal-plagued term as the mayor of Toronto marked a milestone Friday as the focus begins to shift to next year’s municipal election.
Friday is the third anniversary of Ford’s election victory and Sunday marks the one-year countdown to the 2014 vote, with Ford vowing to seek a second four-year term.
The mayor will officially mark three years in office Dec. 7, the date of his inauguration in 2010.
In a brief scrum with reporters Friday morning, Ford crowed about his accomplishments as mayor, saying he is "proud" of what he's done at city hall but he is looking ahead to what he hopes to accomplish if he is re-elected.
Despite the mayor's feats, much of the media attention he receives revolves around his personal life, his squabbles with councillors or critics, and his fractured relationship with the media.
Ford suggested voters can see through that.
“People know I’ve done a great job in this city," he said. "You look at the city three years ago, look at it now. The city was going down the hill fast and we brought it back and I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”
After he was asked if he has any regrets about the focus on his personal life, Ford suggested the theme of the press coverage he receives is out of his hands.
"It's up to you guys," Ford told reporters.
Ford indicated that he's grown tired of the persistent questions that don't have anything to do with city business.
“Absolutely, you guys drive me crazy to be quite frank with you,” Ford said with a laugh. “I talk to you all the time but you guys chase me around constantly like I can’t even breathe sometimes. You never chased any other mayor like you chase me. You don’t camp (outside) any other mayor’s house.”
As he rattled off his list of accomplishments, Ford claimed he has saved millions of dollars in taxpayer money and reduced city spending, and boasted about listed privatizing garbage collection west of Yonge Street and signing new contracts with unionized city workers.
Looking ahead to the 2014 mayoral campaign, Ford said his priorities include eliminating the land transfer tax – an unfulfilled promise that he campaigned on three years ago – reducing gridlock, expanding the subway into the suburbs and getting a downtown relief line, and finding more savings.
“There’s so much gravy still left,” Ford said in an interview with Newstalk 1010 radio show host Jerry Agar earlier in the morning.
Ford said one of his biggest challenges in his final year is unifying council, but he is hoping that won’t be a concern if he wins the next election.
“You have a very divided council. You’ve got half the council that are fiscally responsible and the other half that are fiscally irresponsible, and I want to get these irresponsible councillors out in the next election,” Ford said.
Mayor dogged by controversies
Ford's third year in the mayor's chair has been his most controversial one because of an alleged video of him smoking from a glass pipe and drug stings that led to the arrests of people who have been linked to the mayor.
The alleged video has not surfaced. Ford has denied the existence of the video and he has denied smoking crack cocaine.
In recent weeks, Ford has faced more criticism after it emerged that he wrote character reference letters on City of Toronto letterhead supporting two men with violent pasts.
One of Ford’s letters was filed with the court when his friend Alexander Lisi was sentenced last June for threatening to kill a former girlfriend. Lisi is currently facing drug charges.
The other letter was in support of tow-truck driver Douglas Sedgewick, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1982 and had his driver's licence suspended after being charged with stunt driving. The January letter asked the city’s licensing tribunal to reinstate Sedgewick’s licence. The tribunal reinstated Sedgewick's licence with conditions.
The mayor has also been engaged in a war of words this month with Coun. Paul Ainslie over council's latest vote on the Scarborough subway extension.
After Ainslie voted against the proposal, Ford singled out the councillor in robocalls to Ainslie’s constituents and during a discussion on his weekly radio program.
Ainslie responded by filing a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council about the radio show the mayor co-hosts with his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, on Newstalk 1010.
So far, there has been plenty of speculation about who may challenge Ford in next year’s mayoral campaign, but no serious contenders have officially declared their intent to run.
Candidates in the 2014 municipal election can begin campaigning when the nomination period opens Jan. 2.
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