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“I’m afraid to use the TTC”: Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why

Torontonians share their big hopes for the city’s new leader

By Jadine Ngan| Photography by Patrick Marcoux
"I'm afraid to use the TTC": Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why
Toronto Life, Streeter, Scarbourough Polling Station, Gus Harris Place, Voting, Mayor Election, Toronto, 2023

After a record 102 mayoral hopefuls duked it out in a shotgun election, Olivia Chow is Toronto’s new leader. On Monday, we visited polling stations across the city—downtown, in Scarborough and in Etobicoke—to ask Torontonians from all walks of life whom they voted for and why. Here, Scarborough residents dish on the hot-button issues that drove them to the polls (spoiler alert: transit, public safety, housing and more housing), how candidates won them over and what they hope to see from the city’s first new mayor since 2014.


"I'm afraid to use the TTC": Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why
Toronto Life, Streeter, Scarbourough Polling Station, Gus Harris Place, Voting, Mayor Election, Toronto, 2023
Bruce Rows, 61, on disability leave, and Ruth Rows, 80, retiree

Who did you vote for today?
Bruce: Ana Bailão. She knows what she wants to get done in the city. I was torn between two candidates: her and Mark Saunders. Mark Saunders understands the city since he was chief of police. 

Who got your vote last time?
Bruce: It was Tory. It seemed like he was trying to get things done for the city. Oh well.

Which issue do you care about most?
Bruce: I’d like the city to straighten out the transit system around here. The population in Scarborough is going up like crazy, but they’re not making the transit system work much better. It used to be that, if you wanted to get a bus, all you’d have to do was catch one nearby. Now, you gotta go way the heck out to find one.


"I'm afraid to use the TTC": Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why
Toronto Life, Streeter, Scarbourough Polling Station, Gus Harris Place, Voting, Mayor Election, Toronto, 2023
Roslyn Alfred, 19, student

What brought you out today?
This is my first election. My parents really care about taxes, so they wanted me to come here and make sure to vote for the person they like most.

And who is that?
Ana Bailão. I thought about other candidates as well, but she seemed like the best of the ones I was familiar with. There’s always something bad about each of them; I don’t think any option was perfect. 

What are you hoping to see happen during this next term?
We need to look out, over the next few months, to see if the new mayor is actually going to do something about the issues they said they were going to.

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"I'm afraid to use the TTC": Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why
Toronto Life, Streeter, Scarbourough Polling Station, Gus Harris Place, Voting, Mayor Election, Toronto, 2023
Judith Samuel, 86, retiree

What’s your priority for this election?
Well, to vote for the right person. 

Which candidate won you over?
I voted for Mark Saunders. I feel he would be able to handle what’s going on lately: these people stabbing and shooting innocent people. 

Is safety the most important issue for you?
Yes, on the TTC especially. I take taxis now because I’m scared to go on the TTC. People behave so terribly. I’ve lived here for 28 years. What could I want more than a nice, quiet, peaceful life? 


"I'm afraid to use the TTC": Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why
Toronto Life, Streeter, Scarbourough Polling Station, Gus Harris Place, Voting, Mayor Election, Toronto, 2023
Elleanor Browne, 70, gardener

Who did you vote for today?
I voted for Ana Bailão. I think she will help older people. Everybody’s talking about housing, which is important, but at my age houses aren’t a priority. Helping seniors—that’s important to me. There are seniors who are bedridden, and they can’t get help. 

Do you remember who you voted for in the last municipal election?
Last election, I just went in there and picked a random name because I didn’t want to vote for John Tory.

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After this election, what changes are you hoping to see?
I think young people should run for office. Older people have done all they can, and they have nothing to show for it because their ideas aren’t working. Young people may make mistakes, but let them try again. Young people are the future, no matter what you think. I cannot wait for the federal election, because I’m ready for that one. I want a change—a big, big, big change. I may not be around to see it, but I still want a big change. 


"I'm afraid to use the TTC": Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why
Toronto Life, Streeter, Scarbourough Polling Station, Gus Harris Place, Voting, Mayor Election, Toronto, 2023
Shazeela Sattaur, 61, Costco employee

Which issue is most important to you?
Housing. It’s a shame for a big city like Toronto to have people camped out in minus 40 degrees when politicians are sleeping in nice cozy beds. You have to take care of your constituents. People are being pushed out of the city, and with the rising cost of housing, a lot of people are moving farther and farther away. My son just bought a house out east. I have some friends who are purchasing property in Calgary because they can’t afford it here. 

Are you concerned about anything else?
There should be more security on transit. People are afraid. I used to take transit all the time. One time, I was followed by a guy at Kennedy station, but security took an hour to get there. I’ve lived in this area for 32 years—this never used to happen. After that, I was petrified, and for three months, my husband would pick me up. Transit is not what it was. You have to be alert. You can’t even read a book.

Who won your vote today?
Olivia Chow. I think she’ll do the best job as mayor. I have followed her for the past 20 or 30 years. She has a lot of plans to fix the city, the roads, the housing. I think she’s going to do well in those areas, especially housing—housing is at the top of the list. She deserves a chance. Give her a chance; let’s see what she can do. I think she’s going to do well.


"I'm afraid to use the TTC": Scarborough residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why
Toronto Life, Streeter, Scarbourough Polling Station, Gus Harris Place, Voting, Mayor Election, Toronto, 2023
Misha Perozack, 62, self-employed

What’s factoring in to your vote today?
I’m looking for candidates who are going to support responsible development that ensures there’s going to be enough retail, employment, parks, recreation centres and amenities in neighbourhoods. Right now, it’s the Wild West. The city has all this rhetoric about “complete communities,” but in our neighbourhood—Scarborough Junction—they’re taking out 2,500 square metres of retail space for a big condo, and they’re only going to replace 480 square metres of it.

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Who earned your vote?
I’d rather not say. 

What changes would you like to see in the city?
I’m hoping for the city to live up to its planning promises. I also want to see a better balance between taxation and services. I think services are being cut in order to keep taxes low. That doesn’t make sense. We need a responsible and accountable government.


These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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