Smitherman tosses hat into Toronto mayoralty race

Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman has announced he will run for mayor of Toronto in next year’s civic election.

The MPP for Toronto Centre told Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty he would be resigning from Cabinet Sunday night.

In a statement released Monday, Smitherman explained his reasons for throwing his hat into the race for the mayor’s office.

“I believe that I can deliver the leadership that Toronto needs,” he said. “I have the experience, the energy, the passion and record of accomplishment to lead this city in a new direction with confidence.”

A Toronto resident himself, Smitherman said the city “has been a source of great pride and a place where I’ve devoted a great deal of my energy trying to help build a stronger community. Toronto has had an amazing history, of which we should all be proud. I believe it can have an even brighter future.”

Smitherman is the first high-profile candidate who has officially announced his intention to become Toronto’s next mayor.

City councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, Ward 7 York West, has said he will join the mayoral race if he can secure enough funding. He says it’s becoming a ‘real possibility’ he will be a candidate in the next election.

“More and more people are interested in my platform,” Mammoliti said. “They (taxpayers) are interested in bringing new revenue to the table that won’t overburden homeowners.”

Mammoliti thinks the main issues in the coming election will be the $500-million budget shortfall and the distribution of city services across the city.

Last month, city manager Joe Pennachetti asked all city departments to cut five per cent of their operating budgets in order to balance the books.

One of Mammoliti’s ideas to help the cash-strapped city include building a city-run casino, that he says would provide Toronto with $300 million in annual revenues.

Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, who ran for mayor in 2003, has yet to make an official announcement about his potential candidacy.