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Adrienne Batra has been a key member of the Ford team since he began his bid for the mayoralty.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

She is constantly at Mayor Rob Ford's side, stepping in when media interviews veer in the wrong direction, ending news conferences after a few questions from reporters.

Adrienne Batra, Mr. Ford's press secretary and the woman who helps shape his message, is leaving city hall to take a post as comment editor and writer with the Toronto Sun. She also will weigh in on municipal politics for a local talk radio station.

Ms. Batra has filled a big role in the Ford administration, acting as the gatekeeper to the mayor's office and keeping tabs on the sound bites of the mayor and members of his inner circle who don't always stick to the script.

Her departure later this week comes one year after Mr. Ford took office and just as he begins the battle for council approval of his cost-cutting budget for next year. The mayor's office is searching for a replacement.

"It certainly has had its moments," Ms. Batra said on Tuesday, reflecting on her tenure with the mayor that began during the election campaign.

"Toronto city hall is an interesting place to be and there are a lot of moving parts. All of us had a steep learning curve."

A native of Saskatchewan, Ms. Batra is the youngest daughter of teachers who came from India by way of Ethiopia in Canada's centennial year. She became interested in politics at an early age, becoming school president in Grade 8. She shares the mayor's belief in small government, and is a fan of writer Ayn Rand and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Before moving to Toronto with her husband in 2008, Ms. Batra was Manitoba director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"I'm very much a libertarian. That was well-established early on," she said in an interview earlier this fall.

"There's a world of possibilities out there. I love what I'm doing and when it gets to a point where that's no longer the case, then I know it's time to go," she said in that same September interview.

As the point person for the city's often elusive mayor, Ms. Batra has had a high profile, regularly responding for him.

Part of her role also has been damage control, explaining, for example, that the mayor was indeed driving and talking on his cellphone, but did not give the finger to a mother and daughter who took him to task for it. It was Ms. Batra's job to arrange an impromptu press conference on the sidelines of a football field so the mayor could tell his version of a 911 call after a comedian Mary Walsh approached him in his driveway.

When Councillor Doug Ford's plans for the Port Lands ran into opposition, it was Ms. Batra who tried to give the talkative Etobicoke politician a lower profile.

Ms. Batra, who joined the Canadian Forces reserves in high school and continued for six years, serving on weekends and summers, has tried to bring some discipline and a common voice to the mayor and his allies on council, not always an easy task in a system without party loyalties.

"You have a group of individuals who have all been elected to do what they feel is in the best interest of the residents who have elected them. That doesn't always necessary jibe with what we think the residents of Toronto want," Ms. Batra said Tuesday.

"Maybe it is my military background – being a parent of a toddler helps," Ms. Batra joked about her methods for keeping order. "It's a challenge because you don't have a party system here."

Mayor Ford did not speak directly with the press Tuesday, but in a statement he described her as "a vital part of our administration" and thanked her for her dedication.

Councillor Ford, who as his brother's campaign manager worked closely with Ms. Batra, said she has had a unique role.

"When you are in the trenches you build up a close bond, and she is part of our family," he said. "She was someone to talk to. Before each one of us would go to sleep, we would be on the phone at 11 o'clock at night talking about the next day, what happened that day," he said.



With a report from Siri Agrell