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T.O.'s Mayor Miller says he won't run for re-election
Toronto's Mayor David Miller has confirmed he will step down from his post when his term is done in 2010. He told reporters Friday that he has accomplished all that he has set out to do and now wants to focus on his family.
"It was a difficult decision but I feel secure in my priorities and proud of my record," he said at a news conference Friday morning at City Hall.
Miller -- who still has 14 months left in office -- has said repeatedly thoughout the term that he planned on running in the next election.
But he said that all changed when he met with his campaign team last week.
Though he said the "enthusiasm in the room was incredible," he decided not to run after discussing his political future with his family.
He said since he became mayor, he has faced "immense" pressure as a husband and father. He said if he were to be re-elected to serve a third term until 2014, his daughter would be in university and his son would be graduating from high school. He pointed out that both of his children were born in the late 90s, after he was elected to serve as city councillor.
"(Being re-elected) would not allow me to be there for them in the way they deserve," he said.
He voice cracked with heavy emotion as he spoke about being raised by a single mother.
The announcement comes as the mayor continues to be battered in the polls following his perceived mishandling of this summer's 39-day civic strike. He was also heavily criticized this week after it was revealed that the true cost of employee sick-day benefits far surpasses the figure Miller touted during the strike.
However, Miller said he is "proud" about all that he has accomplished since he was elected as mayor in 2003, including launching an ambitious transit expansion program and making Toronto one of the most eco-conscious cities in the world.
"Every major policy at the foundation of my campaign has been accomplished or is well underway," he said.
He said if he did run again, "it would be about me and my electoral success and not about the Toronto I love."
Coun. Adam Giambrone, a long-time Miller ally, said he was shocked by his colleague's announcement. He was visibly emotional during the news conference.
"Today is really about the accomplishments the mayor has had in the last six years and more importantly what is going to get done over the next (year)," he said after the news conference.
When asked if he was considering a run for mayor, the TTC chair brushed the question aside.
"I think we need to give the mayor his day. There will be plenty of times for campaigns in the 12 to 14 months that are following," he said. In the past several months, several prominent figures had suggested they plan to challenge Miller in the next election.
John Tory, who lost to Miller in 2003 and then became leader of the provincial Tories, is said to be seriously considering a run for the position.
On Friday, he released a statement shortly after Miller made his announcement, thanking the mayor his public service. However, he refused to divulge his plans for his own political future though he said he was "encouraged" by the support he has received from other members of city council.
"I am taking their comments seriously as this city has serious problems that requires serious solutions," he said.
"The next election will be about renewal of the city," he said. "People are telling me they are looking for vision, competence, better services and better value for their tax dollars."
George Smitherman, the deputy Ontario premier, has also publicly said he is mulling his own bid.
Smitherman, who has represented the Toronto Centre riding as a Liberal MPP since 1999, told reporters earlier this month he wants to make sure his "dedication to public service is focused in the right places."
Reports say that as many as four right-leaning city councillors are also considering a run for mayor.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said he has long thought about running for the city's top job but that today he will respect Miller's announcement and not go into too much detail about his own political future.
"I've made no bones about the fact that I've been considering running as a candidate," he told reporters after Miller's news conference. "The mayor's announcement today hasn't changed any of that."
Coun. Adam Vaughan told reporters he won't be running for mayor and suggested the job may be best done by someone with a fresh perspective.
"We have a pretty weak crop on council and I think the next mayor -- and I'll be frank about this -- I think the next mayor needs to come from off of council," he said.
The municipal election is not until November 2010. But serious candidates usually declare officially around Jan. 1, the day they can start raising funds.
Meanwhile, Miller's news sent shock waves throughout the political community.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called Miller's dedication to public service "unwavering."
"Under his leadership, Toronto has made progress on public transit. He rejuvenated parks and public spaces and helped secure the New Deal for Cities with senior governments," McGuinty said in a news release.
"The decision to enter public service is difficult and so is the decision to leave it," he said before thanking Miller's family for their support.
But not everybody was sad to hear the news of Miller's departure.
Kevin Gaudet, with the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, told CTV Toronto Thursday he's glad for the change.
"This mayor has been very difficult for the City of Toronto and ratepayers and taxpayers," he said. "Spending has ballooned. He's introduced no less than three new taxes, property taxes have skyrocketed, fees have skyrocketed and he's going to be walking out the door leaving a ruin of a spending problem behind him for whoever his successor will be to try and fix."
He said the next mayor will have to make promises to deal with the overspending and subsequent budget problems they're facing.