Pantalone copes with finishing third

Joe Pantalone (centre) is recognized for his mayoral campaign efforts by father (right) Jack Layton and son Michael Layton at a post-election gathering. (PANTALONE_LAYTONS_GRANDEEDIT)

When the final results came in, the numbers for Joe Pantalone’s mayoral bid may have been small, but the outpouring of support was huge.

After the initial shocked silence that followed the news that Rob Ford was voted Toronto’s next mayor, the Pantalone supporters who had packed themselves into Revival on College Street remained upbeat despite only polling 11 per cent of the final votes.

The audience roared its support as Pantalone, 58, slowly worked his way to the stage.

“Wow!” he said. “Each of you here is the perfect reason why I will always love the people of Toronto. Today, tens of thousands of Torontonians placed their faith in a progressive city by voting for me. For that I will be eternally grateful.”

As Pantalone thanked the audience for its support during his campaign over the last 10 months, volunteers expressed their disappointment in Ford’s victory.

Political science major Michelle Johnstone, 19, recalled the moment that first inspired her to join Pantalone’s campaign.

“I went to a debate at the University of Toronto and I saw the candidates for the first time,” she recalled. “I just loved what Joe had to say and how he was all about the people.”

When asked what she’d like to see Ford tackle first during his first term in office, Johnstone didn’t even hesitate.

“I wish that he would support Transit City,” she said. “As much as he has some good ideas for the TTC, I’m worried that he won’t get it done.”

Pantalone piped up with his own personal direct message to Ford. He hoped Toronto’s new mayor would heed his advice.

“I wish to remind him that while the message of respect for the taxpayer has strong resonance in this city, (it is) also a divided city that went to the polls and it does not have a strong mandate for radical, drastic change a la Mike Harris,” he said. “He could be a great leader if he tries to branch out a little bit more, while at the same time respecting the fact that he has been elected the next mayor of Toronto.”

Pantalone fielded the inevitable questions that come with a lost mayoral bid. He vowed to continue to keep the city of Toronto as his top priority.

“The people of Toronto are paying my salary through to Nov. 30, so tomorrow morning I plan to go back to work as deputy mayor and city councillor,” he said.

“And, then? I don’t know. I might be able to sleep in in the morning.”

Pantalone dismissed suggestions that the only next move for him was retirement. Although he admitted his future was still uncertain, he was positive that this run for mayor was not his political swan song.

“Joe Pantalone will continue to work on behalf of this amazing city,” he insisted. “But what form that will take, I don’t know.”