We need a mayor with vision, Henry Farm residents say

Members of the Henry Farm community say they want a mayor with a plan for their neighbourhood and the city. And they want someone who will live up to their promises.

The top three mayoral candidates gathered at St. Timothy Catholic School in Don Valley East on Wednesday night to discuss issues pertaining to the neighbourhood. John Tory, host of the Live Drive on Newstalk 1010, moderated the debate hosted by the Henry Farm Community Association.

Namby Vithiananthan, the group’s president, said his community wants Toronto’s next mayor to be someone who can ease gridlock, plan better neighbourhoods and provide value for tax dollars.

Vithiananthan said he wants a mayor who can keep his word.

“I think here, it comes to a matter of who can you trust? In my opinion, I would be able to trust Rob Ford,” he said. “I feel more comfortable that he will look after our dollars better. Some of the others’ track records have not been so good.”

During the debate, the candidates were asked to provide evidence they can deliver on their budget promises.

Joe Pantalone said he will freeze taxes for senior citizens who make less than $50,000 per year, eliminate the vehicle registration tax over the next four years and guarantee a tax increase of 1.65 per cent, which is less than the rate of inflation.

He said Shelley Carroll, city councillor for Ward 33/Don Valley East and chair of the budget committee, agrees his plan will work and he can deliver on it.

“Therefore, not only is it my word that it makes sense, the budget chair and your councillor says it makes sense as well,” Pantalone said. “That’s the smell test.”

George Smitherman said his fiscal plan has the approval of Warren Jestin, chief economist for Scotiabank. His plan includes freezing taxes, reducing city hall by replacing only two out of three employees who retire and a review of expenditures.

Smitherman encouraged the audience to scrutinize his and Ford’s budgets online for themselves. He said that Ford has already been accused of “playing the taxpayers for fools.”

Ford retorted, “I try to take the high ground but I’m not going to sit here and be abused by someone who just sits here and everything he touches is a scandal.”

Ford’s platform involved getting rid of the car registration tax and land transfer tax. He said his track record of saving money will translate directly into his role as mayor.

“It comes down to trust ladies and gentlemen,” Ford said. “At the end of four years, you’re going to say, ‘He did what he said he was going to do.’”