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Steve Mahoney has registered to run for mayor of Mississauga.

JP Moczulski

The first high-profile candidate has registered in the race for Mississauga's mayoralty, a move a quarter-century in the making.

Political veteran Steve Mahoney filed his registration papers Monday morning for a job he's had his eye on since 1987, when he was on city council. He raised the idea with long-serving Mayor Hazel McCallion back then, but she directed him instead to seek a job in provincial politics.

"I've always been a big supporter of the mayor and I had no intention of running [against her]. I might have anticipated that she may have retired earlier," said Mr. Mahoney, a former Liberal MPP and federal cabinet minister under prime minister Jean Chrétien.

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His long-awaited registration has now cast a spotlight on Councillor Bonnie Crombie, who is expected to announce her candidacy soon. It is rumoured that she has serious campaign machinery behind her already.

"You can expect an announcement from me on a decision within the next coming weeks," Ms. Crombie said Monday afternoon, hours after Mr. Mahoney had filed his papers at City Hall.

Mr. Mahoney does not plan to release a full platform just yet but says he will position himself as a fiscal conservative.

Mississauga, which celebrates its 40th anniversary as a city this year, has evolved dramatically since Mr. Mahoney was last on council in 1987. Rapid development has covered nearly every patch of the city's greenfields, prompting a new focus on creating greater density in the core. But building a more urban Mississauga has been a challenge: Public coffers, once filled by a steady stream of development fees, have dried up, which has left many pressing infrastructure projects unfunded.

Mr. Mahoney said he wants to "hold the line on taxes" and instead find other ways to fund growth, such as retaining the more than 50,000 businesses that have planted roots in the city and attract more with a target of bringing the total to 60,000 during the next municipal term.

The city's traditional zoning practices will need an overhaul, too, so more mixed-use buildings and communities can be built, he said.

Though Ms. Crombie has only been on council since 2011, when she won her seat in a by-election, she has become a well-known face in the city. When asked whether it will be a challenge to campaign against her if she runs, Mr. Mahoney took a swing at Ms. Crombie's social-media activity.

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"Rather than just appearing at events and sending out tweets and Facebook [updates] to people about things I'm doing, I'm more interested in putting some substantial policies forward that will show the citizens of Mississauga that they can have confidence in me as their new mayor," he said.

Ms. Crombie, while still not officially a candidate, responded in full-out campaign mode.

"Yesterday, I spent my afternoon at Hershey Centre. We swabbed over 100 Mississaugans at a bone marrow match clinic. Is that what he's referring to?" she asked.

"I think we need generational change and I think we need someone who has hands-on knowledge of our issues, who has hands-on experience on council today," she said.

As of this week, the only other candidates registered to run for mayor are relative unknowns Scott Chapman and Riazuddin Choudhry.

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