Why some familiar faces are taking a second chance at Toronto City Council seats this year

Some familiar faces will be taking another shot at winning a seat on Toronto City Council, which is set to change a lot in this fall’s election.

With the departure of seven incumbents, a group of former City politicians and some veterans of the tumultuous 2018 campaign have signed up to run. The official deadline to enter the race passed on Friday, setting the stage for the Oct. 24 vote.

Among the dozens of candidates for Toronto‘s 25 wards are a trio of former councilors trying to make a comeback – Jon Burnside, Lorenzo Berardinetti and Vince Crisanti.

“Quite simply, it’s my dream job,” Burnside said of his bid to return to City Hall.

Quite simply, it’s my dream job.– Jon Burnside, former Toronto City Councilor

In 2018, Premier Doug Ford’s decision to reduce the size of the council from 47 to 25 wards pitted the incumbents against each other and forced others to reconsider. Burnside lost to fellow starter Jaye Robinson. Earlier this year, the con. Denzil Minnan-Wong has announced that he will not seek another term in Ward 16, Don Valley East, where Burnside is currently running.

“I know that’s a weird thing to say, but I love being the adviser,” Burnside added. “I love being with people. And I love trying to build communities.”

Berardinetti, who served on council for 15 years before being elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003, is also trying to make a return to city hall. He will face Coun. Gary Crawford, incumbent of Ward 20, Scarborough Southwest.

“I think you can make more changes at the city level,” Berardinetti said, contrasting that with his experience in the party system at Queen’s Park. “I have experience and would like to offer my services to the city.”

In 2018, former Councilor Vince Crisanti lost to outgoing colleague Michael Ford in Ward 1, Etobicoke North. This time around, he’s back in the running to represent the district now that Ford has moved on to Queen’s Park.

Chris Moise, pictured here in May 2018, is running again for Toronto City Council after withdrawing his candidacy four years ago when the council was reduced from 47 to 25 wards. (Submitted by Chris Moise)

Chris Moise was among a string of new candidates who pulled out of the 2018 race when the council cut happened. Instead of running against his friend Kristyn Wong-Tam in Ward 13, Toronto Centre, he campaigned for trustee on the Toronto District School Board and won. Like Michael Ford, Wong-Tam has since moved into provincial politics, having won the election in June.

After four years on the school board, Moise said he could bring his skills and experience to town hall.

“Being a black man and a gay man on the school board, I brought my lived experience to the role,” he said.

“If I wasn’t there to talk about my experience in my community and to advocate, some of the issues I raised would never have surfaced.”

Willowdale Ward 18 candidate Lily Cheng came second in 2018 behind incumbent John Filion who decided not to run again.

Cheng, who runs the North York Moms Facebook page, says she didn’t “disappear” after the last election, and instead got into community work. She is concerned about levels of apathy and cynicism in city politics, but hopes voters will elect a new, diverse council.

“There seems to be a lack of connection between the town hall and the people who live in the communities,” she said.

“I’ve been a community organizer in Willowdale for nearly a decade, so I really feel our democracy is in jeopardy because the threads of our communities are frayed.”

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