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The Globe and Mail

Former Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis launches bid for council seat

After more than 25 years in the house, Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis is stepping down to run for councillor in his Toronto Scarborough constituency. He says the move will allow him to be closer to his aging mother.

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Former Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis launched his bid for Toronto city councillor Wednesday saying he wants to focus on his ward and spend more time with family.

Mr. Karygiannis officially registered to run for Toronto city councillor for ward 39 Wednesday morning, a day after resigning from his position as a member of parliament for 25 years.

The campaign launch was at the Milliken Bar and Restaurant, near Kennedy Road and Finch Avenue East – a Chinese restaurant within Ward 39 where Mr. Karygiannis has held previous meetings.

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"I left a high pressure job in order to still continue working for my constituents and I need to spend time," he said, tearing up at the launch. "My girls, they put together a dinner for us, their comment was 'Now we're controlling your schedule.'"

Mr. Karygiannis said the shift from federal to city politics is in part to be closer to his mother, who will be 85 soon and developed vertigo in the past two years.

Ward 39 (Scarborough-Agincourt, southeast of Steeles and Victoria Park avenues) falls within the boundaries of the federal ward of the same name.

Mr. Karygiannis is a 21-year resident of the ward and lives near Warden and McNicoll avenues.

"I am proud to have served the people of Scarborough-Agincourt and hope to continue to serve them in the future in another capacity," he said April 1 in his resignation speech in the House of Commons.

At his campaign launch, Mr. Karygiannis squashed any talk of him running for mayor this October, but said "never say never" about the future.

"People have asked me why I'm not running for mayor at this point in time," he said. "It's too early for me to get into that, the field is too populated."

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The current councillor for ward 39, Mike Del Grande, has held the position for more than 10 years and is not seeking re-election.

In February, Mr. Del Grande – former budget chief and one-time ally of Mayor Rob Ford – told the Globe and Mail he "lost the joy" for Toronto politics.

Mr. Karygiannis praised Mr. Del Grande in his resignation speech and said that he helped get Mr. Del Grande elected.

There are few people capable of organizing and helping others get elected, Mr. Karygiannis said, calling himself "the last samurai" of the Liberal party.

He was consecutively re-elected as the member of parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt seven times since first being elected in the fall of 1988. During his time as a member of parliament, he held the positions of veteran affairs critic and multiculturalism critic for the Liberal party.

He said upgrades to public transit – including the subway to Scarborough along Sheppard Avenue – services for new immigrants and keeping local hospital Scarborough Grace open would be his priorities if he is elected as councillor.

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