Before a wall of cameras and supporters, George Smitherman gracefully conceded last night to the new mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford.
Ford earned almost half the eligible votes, while Smitherman finished with 34 per cent. Mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone finished in third place with 11 per cent.
“I’ve just spoken with mayor-elect Rob Ford and offered him my most sincere congratulations and gratitude for a campaign very well fought,” Smitherman said.
The hundreds of Smitherman supporters, who gathered in a downtown nightclub, met the former candidate’s sentiments for Ford with loud booing.
“No, no, no,” Smitherman said. “Toronto is too important. There are no boos tonight. We love our city.”
Smitherman also commended Pantalone for his campaign, noting the hundred or so debates they experienced together over the last 14 months. He said it was an honour to work alongside all the mayoral candidates in the municipal election.
Voice breaking and holding back tears, he also thanked his husband Christopher, adopted son Michael and the thousands of volunteers he referred to as “the purple army.”
Former mayoral-candidate Sarah Thomson dropped out of the race to lend her support to Smitherman’s campaign. Giovanna Del-Pellaro followed Thomson’s lead and volunteered for him in the remaining weeks of the election.
“When I actually got to meet George myself, I even realized he was very approachable and had a great vision,” she said. “His ideas of how Toronto can push forward — I thought I could agree with that.”
Del-Pellara said she was shocked at the results and thought there would be enough anti-Ford sentiment to secure Smitherman’s election as mayor.
“I honestly thought George was going to win,” she said. “I’m so disappointed. Not even for all the hard work volunteers have put in, but imagine the next four years.”
Despite Smitherman’s own disappointment, he said it’s important for city councillors to work together.
“During the campaign, it became clear to me that being the mayor of Canada’s biggest city calls for care, humility and the ability to work together with Toronto’s 44 councillors,” he said.