Etobicoke Councillor Peter Leon is distancing himself from his promise not to run in this year’s municipal election – a pledge that was a key factor in his appointment by city council last fall to fill Doug Holyday’s Ward 3 seat.
Mr. Leon was picked in an October council vote from a field of 41 applicants to fill the vacancy created by the provincial by-election victory by Mr. Holyday, who was the deputy mayor. At the time, several councillors expressed their preference that the person they selected not have political ambitions because an incumbent would have an advantage at the polls. Council rejected a by-election to fill the post because of the cost of a vote so close to the 2014 municipal election.
Mr. Leon said several times, including to council, that he had no interest in holding the seat beyond the current term. However, there is no way for councillors to hold him to that promise or to prevent him from running in Ward 3 or any other ward.
When asked on Monday about his plans, Mr. Leon refused to repeat his pledge.
“Right now, I am doing the very best I can for the people in Ward 3,” he told reporters. “I’m enjoying living my dream every day and that’s as much as I am going to say.”
Mr. Leon refused to say if he has had a change of heart. “I haven’t said one way or another,” he said.
“I am still a very honourable person. I am out there doing the job I said I would,” he said. “The time is not here to declare anything yet. Why are you making a story out of something that’s not there? It’s not a story,” he told reporters.
Some people have urged him to run, he said, adding that he is humbled by that.
Councillor Paula Fletcher, who voted for Mr. Leon’s appointment, said she would not have given him her support without his reassurance that he would be a caretaker for the ward. “I felt comfortable with the appointment because he assured us he was not going to run,” she said.
Mr. Leon was Mr. Holyday’s preferred candidate, but Mayor Rob Ford and the Etobicoke York Community Council both endorsed former Progressive Conservative MPP and cabinet minister Chris Stockwell, who lost to Mr. Leon in the third round of voting at a special council meeting.