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Mississauga mayor-elect Bonnie Crombie sets tone for a new era

November 5, 2014

She may have snagged the most significant endorsement, from Hazel McCallion, but Mississauga mayor-elect Bonnie Crombie campaigned without public support from any of her colleagues on council.

With only one council vote as mayor, Ms. Crombie is now trying to gain councillors’ support and building consensus to keep the city moving forward.

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Five of the 11 sitting councillors endorsed Ms. Crombie’s opponent, Steve Mahoney, during last month’s election campaign – including his wife, Councillor Katie Mahoney. Ms. Crombie, meanwhile, didn’t have any of her colleagues publicly in her corner.

“They had 25-year relationships [with Mr. Mahoney],” Ms. Crombie said. “I didn’t see that as a problem; I saw that as loyalty.”

The endorsement from outgoing mayor Ms. McCallion still helped to propel Ms. Crombie to victory, but her colleagues on council expect she’ll run a drastically different administration. She’s the first new face at the helm in 36 years and will have to make an effort to bring council on board with her vision for the city.

Setting the tone for a new era, Ms. Crombie is meeting with all councillors to determine which issues are important in their wards and how they can work together on key files.

“I want to let them know that I want to work as a team, build consensus, build partnerships with them,” said Ms. Crombie, former Ward 5 councillor. “I’ll ask each of them … what they want us to have accomplished as a team over the next four years.”

Councillors say the approach is a pivot from the way 93-year-old Ms. McCallion ran her tight ship, leaving few important decisions to her peers. Ms. Crombie’s approach, they say, could elevate the role councillors play in governing the city.

“People are going to be surprised to see some of their councillors shining now,” said George Carlson, returning Ward 11 councillor, who remained neutral during the campaign to avoid alienating supporters who preferred another mayoral candidate.

Mr. Carlson met with the mayor-elect Tuesday and said they discussed changing the structure of committees to bring in new leadership roles for councillors.

“The city’s going to have brand-new leaders and I’m really looking forward to it,” Mr. Carlson said. “I think it’s going to be exciting – which it hasn’t been for a very long time.”

He said Ms. McCallion’s long reign over Mississauga left councillors in only “custodial” roles.

“Leadership roles or taking control of major issues was something that was frowned upon by the mayor,” Mr. Carlson said. “She was the boss.”

Former councillor Carolyn Parrish, who won Ms. Crombie’s old Ward 5 seat this election, agreed.

“Under Hazel, it was a pretty closed shop. She ran the show,” she said. “[Ms. Crombie] will have to work with the council she’s got, respect their abilities, distribute a little bit of responsibility.”

Ms. Parrish ran and lost against Ms. Crombie in a by-election for Ward 5 in 2011. The two were pitted against each other in a heated audit battle over by-election spending. But Ms. Parrish said there are no sour grapes as the two return to council to work together.

Incoming councillor Matt Mahoney, the son of Ms. Crombie’s rival candidate, also said he expects no problems working with Ms. Crombie despite being disappointed at his father’s loss.

“At the end of the day, we’re all professionals and we’re able to get up and move on,” said Mr. Mahoney, who took over from his mother in Ward 8. “It’s important for council as a whole to work as a team.”


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Article source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/mississauga-mayor-elect-bonnie-crombie-sets-tone-for-a-new-era/article21451546/?cmpid=rss1

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