Morgan Baskin keeps busy.
She’s a Cub Scout leader part of the year. In the summer, she’s a camp counsellor and she travels.
She’s also in the middle of what she calls her victory lap, her fifth year, at Inglenook Community High School.
In spite of all that, the 18-year-old has made the time for a new pursuit: the mayor’s chair at Toronto’s City Hall.
“People keep saying I have a lack of experience, but I think at the end of the day I have different experiences,” Baskin said. “I don’t have experience winning elections. That’s not what I do for a living.”
Baskin, one of 51 candidates vying for the city’s top job, joined the race on Feb. 28. It’s a crowded field dominated by seasoned politicians and business leaders, including current mayor Rob Ford, former MP Olivia Chow, former Ontario PC leader John Tory and former TTC chair Karen Stintz.
“I don’t have experience being the CEO of a big company but the city’s not a company,” she said. “We’re not here to make a profit. We’re here to service and take care of people and build for the future.”
A Baskin victory in the Oct. 27 election is a long shot but stranger things have happened, said University of Toronto Scarborough journalism professor Jeffrey Dvorkin.
“It’s happened before,” he said. “When the voters are uncertain and volatile and eager for change, you can see some surprising results. Even if she doesn’t win, she should run again.
“We need smart, young representatives in government.”
Zola Jeffers agreed.
“It takes a lot for someone to want to take on the burden of a mayor, especially when you’re only 18 years old,” said Jeffers, a social worker with a focus on young women. “I mean this is huge for Morgan if she is elected into office, but even bigger for the city of Toronto.”
Despite her age, Baskin said she’s got what it takes to do the job. A mayor, she said, must be a leader and a visionary.
“I believe I’m both of those things,” she said. “We need a person whose personality and vision fits with the city. [We need] someone willing to put aside his or her personal stuff to help the city grow.”
Getting there, though, means Baskin has to convince voters and the way to do that is by being genuine, Dvorkin said.
“She needs to be herself, be clear about what concerns her as a person and as a candidate,” he said. “The voters know when someone is faking it and they tend to reward ‘authentic’ candidates.”
It’s a challenge Baskin is up for, she said.
“At the end of the day I think I can do it,” she said. “I wouldn’t be running if I couldn’t do it.”