“We need someone who can stand up to Ford”: Etobicoke 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 Alex Cyr| Photography by Joshua Best
"We need someone who can stand up to Ford": Etobicoke residents explain which candidates they voted for in the mayoral election and why

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, Etobicoke 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.

Etobicoke resident Sabrina Renna voted for Olivia Chow to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Sabrina Renna, 28, computer engineer

Who was your choice for mayor? Olivia Chow, because we need progressive blood in the city. We swung right with John Tory, and that was fine, but for once I want a mayor who won’t end their term in a scandal. I also think the entire right-wing spectrum of candidates is too divided and incoherent; Chow is a breath of fresh air. I appreciate how she’s carrying on her late husband Jack Layton’s legacy.

Did Chow’s stance on any particular issue win you over?
The cost of living has gone up exponentially, and a lot of people are being priced out of the city. We need to find a way for people my age to be able to live and work in the GTA. I voted for Chow because I think she’s the most likely to help us afford to live.

Were you voting strategically?
I think Chow is the strongest of the candidates, but I also like that the tension between her and Ford will create intense political discourse—that kind of debate is good for democracy.

Etobicoke resident Rob Hunter voted for Ana Bailão to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Rob Hunter, 49, mechanical engineer

Who was your choice for mayor?
I voted for Ana Bailão. She isn’t perfect, but I think she’s a better option than all the others, and I support her because she’s a centrist. I never vote for people on the far right or the far left; they never seem to agree on anything. Bailão seems like she can make things happen, and the fact that John Tory endorsed her strengthened my position. If Tory was running again, I would have voted for him—he did a good job, and I don’t think the personal stuff should matter.

What is the most pressing issue for our next mayor to address?
The homelessness and drug crises—and we fix those, in part, by making housing affordable across the board. When I was in my late 20s, I bought my first property in Etobicoke with an early career engineer’s salary. Now, things are different: if they don’t change, my kids will struggle to afford a house by their late 30s, and that’s not right.


Etobicoke resident Monica Martin voted for Olivia Chow to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Monica Martin, 76, retired

Who was your choice for mayor?
I loved Mitzie Hunter’s platform, but I didn’t think she stood much of a chance, so I gave my vote to Olivia Chow. I narrowed it down to those two candidates because they were knowledgeable and respectful during the mayoral debate, unlike Mark Saunders, who I felt was rudely slagging people and behaved like Doug Ford’s puppet. Chow has a great platform, and I’ve been convinced that she will win. 

What do you like about her platform?
She cares about the homelessness crisis. I’ve lived in Etobicoke for 50 years, and homelessness is worse than I’ve ever seen. If everyone had a place to call home, that could also improve TTC safety. Everybody needs a roof: even if it’s one of those tiny wooden shelters that Khaleel Seivwright built and distributed, which our previous mayor shut down. That was ridiculous, and I don’t think Chow would have made a decision like that.

Etobicoke resident Barbara Kolodziej voted for Anthony Furey to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Barbara Kolodziej, 30, teacher

Who was your choice for mayor?
I went with Anthony Furey because I thought he was the best candidate. 

How come?
I like that he’s anti–property taxes, which have risen far too much in the city. My parents are homeowners in the area, and it’s hard now compared with when they bought the house. I also trust that he will advocate for a reduction in rental costs; I’m a renter, and the price I pay now is already much higher than when I first moved into my rental, in November. These housing costs are making it hard for me and people I know to live in Toronto, and we’re seeing restaurants close down because of commercial rents and property taxes too. The city needs to control that: we don’t want to become unaffordable like New York.

Etobicoke resident Daniel De Pont voted for Ana Bailão to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Daniel De Pont, 22, plumbing apprentice

Who was your choice for mayor?
I picked Ana Bailão because she is pro-labour and her time as deputy mayor showed that she can handle the position. She is also pro-unions, which I like because I’m part of a trade union. My girlfriend works for the city in parks and recreation, and Bailão said she is supporting the parks and our city workers in general. So having her at the helm would be good for both of us.


Was it a strategic vote, or do you think Bailão was truly the best candidate?
I think she’s the best. I don’t like to vote strategically, and I don’t think other people should do so. It dilutes what it means to vote. It’s a civic duty to choose the platform you think is best, period.

Etobicoke resident Genevieve Doucette voted for Olivia Chow to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Genevieve Doucette, 50, self-employed

Who was your choice for mayor?
Olivia Chow. Once I saw that she had extensive political experience and that she’s pro-cycling, I didn’t consider anyone else. 

I take it you’re a cyclist.
Yes—my partner and I don’t drive; we just ride bikes. We wanted someone in power who could protect the rights of cyclists in the city. With John Tory, it was terrible: city officers were ticketing cyclists on main biking thoroughfares like Shaw Street and even in High Park. That’s not to mention how dangerous the city has become for us: I remember reading that an off-duty police officer hit a cyclist with his car in High Park. I don’t feel at risk biking here in Etobicoke, but I don’t bring my bike downtown anymore, and I want that to change. 

Etobicoke resident Eveline Porter voted for Ana Bailao to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Eveline Porter, 61, nurse

Who are you voting for today?
I chose Ana Bailão long before Tory endorsed her because she has a proven track record of working with several levels of government, and I think she’s best positioned to improve our housing crisis. When I watched the debates, she voiced her opinions clearly and didn’t dodge questions like other candidates. I voted with my gut.

What’s the number one issue that shaped your vote?
I think we need to consider that a lot of the city’s ongoing issues—safety on the TTC, housing affordability, widespread mental illness—are a result of the pandemic’s devastation. I always supported Tory because I think he cared about ensuring that there were mental health supports available throughout the city, including inside shelters. I don’t want to see those services disappear.


Etobicoke resident John Reid cast his vote for mayor on election day.
John Reid, 72, funeral services worker

Which issues did you consider when casting your vote today?
For me, it’s more about who has experience with people and less about the issues. I wouldn’t let some of these candidates run a lemonade stand—they have no leadership experience. Whoever is elected has to know how to deal with Doug Ford, so I voted for someone who can stand up to him. 

And whom did you choose?
I won’t say. It’s a secret ballot—I normally don’t answer pollsters or tell anyone who I’m picking, not even my partner. We don’t discuss politics in the house because it’s not worth fighting over. I will say, however, that I think John Tory did a tremendous job and that the city is running well. A lot of candidates criticized Tory for not doing more to fix issues like homelessness and housing. But those same candidates were part of his council; that doesn’t look good on them, and I kept that in mind.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.


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