Get ready for something ugly, angry and mostly pointless—get ready for the Ward 9 by-election
The news broke Friday afternoon that City Clerk Ulli Watkiss had decided not to go forward with an appeal of the Ontario Superior Court order to hold a new election in Ward 9. Ever since the court ruled the election results invalid thanks to some vote-counting irregularities, the city has been lumbering towards a rematch between Maria Augimeri and Gus Cusimano, something the Rob Ford camp expects to be a “referendum” on his performance as mayor to date and, by no coincidence, something Team Ford intends to win handily.
At first, we wondered whether Augimeri would attempt to submit an appeal of her own—but yesterday afternoon she issued a statement announcing that she will, in fact, fight the by-election call. From the CBC:
Her announcement comes three days after the city clerk decided not to appeal last month’s ruling by an Ontario Superior Court Justice that the vote in Ward 9 during last year’s municipal election showed several “irregularities” and should be held again…
“The clerk’s advice not to appeal does harm to taxpayers as well as to the integrity of our electoral system,” said Augimeri in a Monday statement. She said she will first ask that the court ruling be set aside.
The by-election is scheduled for July 25, and this week’s council meetings will be Augimeri’s last. The city will deal with a whole mess of contentious issues, including garbage privatization, land sales and the Fort York bridge, so it’ll be one worth following. Perhaps while everyone’s in one room some councillors can go public with their rumoured criticism of Watkiss for bending under Ford’s considerable political pressure. Because shooting the messenger always looks great.
But in the end, changing one vote on council from the anti-Ford to the pro-Ford caucus doesn’t really change the balance of power. Ford’s opposition has with few exceptions been too small or too divided to actually challenge the mayor on anything serious, so we probably shouldn’t get too excited that replacing Augimeri with Cusimano is going to make or break the mayor’s agenda—unless it turns out there’s nothing better to do in June.