Pitfield doubts she’ll run again after Ward 29 loss

Jane Pitfield thinks that NDP endorsements contributed to her loss in Ward 29.

She finished second in the Ward 29/Toronto-Danforth race with 28 per cent of the vote. Mary Fragedakis was the clear winner, garnering 42 per cent of ballots cast. Newcomer Fragedakis received endorsements from local NDP politicians, including Jack Layton, the federal NDP leader and Toronto-Danforth MP.

“I think I underestimated the strength of the NDP in Ward 29,” Pitfield said. “They were well organized.… I personally do not use political endorsements, because I am not with a political party. I have always felt that a candidate needs to run on their own steam.”

This race was billed as one to watch after veteran councillor Case Ootes announced his retirement.

“I apologized to Case Ootes tonight — because he managed to beat the NDP by 20 votes last election,” Pitfield said during her concession speech. 

Fragedakis also received NDP support from two East York MPPs, Peter Tabuns from Toronto-Danforth and Michael Prue from Beaches-East York. 

Chris Yaccato, Pitfield’s campaign manager, was proud of their campaign and wasn’t surprised by the uphill battle they faced.

“The NDP wanted this ward, they sought it and they coveted it,” Yaccato said. 

Another factor in the race was Jennifer Wood, who received 24 per cent of the vote. Pitfield’s supporters felt Wood split the vote, which handed Fragedakis her victory, apparent shortly after the polls closed. Fragedakis took an early lead and never looked back — finishing with 7,430 votes, while Pitfield took 4,966 and Wood followed close behind with 4,269.

“If it had been a one-on-one race we would have probably seen some different results,” Yaccato said. “But Jennifer, she ran because she cared for her community, and nobody should be stopped for that.” 

Controversy arose on Oct. 14, when Rita Smith, a volunteer for Pitfield, sent an e-mail to Wood urging her to drop out of the race.  

“I take some satisfaction in the fact that I did place second (over) Jennifer,” Pitfield said during her concession speech.

“My letter to Jennifer was right!” Smith said during the speech.

Jane Pitfield has been absent from politics since her unsuccessful run against David Miller in the 2006 mayoral race. While she says she’ll always be involved in the community, she doubts that she’ll run for formal office again. 

“I would be surprised,” Pitfield said. “I only think one day at a time.”