Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Toronto Mayor John Tory, right, and Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 8 80 Cities, take part in a panel discussion at the XII Metropolis World Congress in Montreal in 2017.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Now that Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced plans to step down from the role after admitting to having an affair with a former member of his staff, all eyes have turned to the now looming race to replace him.

A byelection will take place within 60 days of the mayor’s office being declared vacant. Tory has not yet formally resigned his post, but speculation is already swirling about some of the candidates who may vie to take his place. Here’s a look at some of the known and potential contenders:

Gil Penalosa

The progressive urbanist, who came a distant second to Tory in October’s municipal election, announced Saturday he will run again once a byelection is called.

Penalosa said he will run largely on the same platform he pitched last time, which focuses on improving affordability including social services and housing.

Despite the new “strong mayor” powers given to Toronto through provincial legislation, which allows bylaws to be enacted with the support of a minority of councillors, Penalosa said he will not approve measures without at least half of council’s support.

Michael Ford

Peter Graefe, an associate professor of political science at McMaster University, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ontario Premier Doug Ford was speaking to his nephew, Michael, about making the jump to the mayor’s seat.

The younger Ford was elected as a member of provincial parliament last June and shortly after was appointed minister of citizenship and multiculturalism by his premier uncle, prompting allegations of nepotism.

The elder Ford defended his decision at the time by saying his nephew had years of experience serving as a school trustee and on Toronto city council.

Graefe said the premier has previously shown a clear interest in how Toronto is governed and the idea of having his nephew in the role following the recent enactment of “strong mayor” powers could be appealing.

Josh Matlow

A progressive councillor for the ward of Toronto-St. Paul’s since 2010, Matlow has been one of John Tory’s most vocal opponents at City Hall.

Matlow has not yet made any formal decision or indication that he will run, instead stating on Twitter he remains focused on “delivering an improved budget” at a special city council meeting planned for Wednesday.

“We cannot let what happened distract our focus,” he said.

“I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that every Torontonian has a warm place to go, the TTC is truly safe and reliable, we address the roots of health and safety of our communities, repair our crumbling infrastructure and roads, and finally make the necessary investments in well-maintained parks and services residents rely on.”

Brad Bradford

He may be just months into his second tenure on council, but the man representing the ward of Beaches-East York has already made a name for himself as a reliable ally of the outgoing mayor.

Tory endorsed Bradford, who has a background in urban planning, early in his 2018 election bid. He later assigned Bradford some plum roles, including naming him to executive council and appointing him commissioner of the city’s transit system.

The state of local transit is a hot-button issue in Toronto at all times, but a recent rash of violent incidents has trained a particularly bright spotlight on the issue as Torontonians prepare to return to the polls.

Media reports say Bradford’s name is being floated in Progressive Conservative circles, whose members are keen to see a candidate in Tory’s ideological mould take the helm at City Hall.

Chloe Brown

Brown finished a distant third in last year’s mayoral race behind Tory and Penalosa.

She has not yet indicated firm intentions to run again but has suggested to local media that she’s considering the idea.

Her 2022 platform included using technology-driven solutions to improve government services, a plan to change the current property tax system to one based on land values, and improving conditions for the city’s renters.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow topics related to this article:

Check Following for new articles