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The battle to replace Hurricane Hazel

September 22, 2014

Bonnie Crombie is so wired when we meet late last week at the Mississauga Country Club I wonder if she’s had too much caffeine, or isn’t accustomed to interviews with Toronto media.

The attractive blonde, who is dressed in an elegant royal blue and black suit, talks a mile a minute about her mayoral bid. Throughout our 40-odd minutes together, the MBA grad with impressive credentials in the private sector, 20 years of community work, a term as a Liberal MP and three years as a Mississauga councillor under her belt, sounds like she’s trying to pitch herself and her work ethic as she would a new client.

No wonder. This election is a historic one for the city of Mississauga.

Mayor Hazel McCallion has at long last hung up her spurs after 36 years in power and there is plenty at stake for the 54-year-old Crombie and her main opponent, 67-year-old Steve Mahoney.

But the debate these two main of 16 opponents hope to have has been overshadowed by Toronto’s mayoral race and the ongoing saga of Rob Ford.

“We’re not being heard,” says Crombie.

“The latest developments in Toronto have sucked all of the oxygen out of the air … it’s frustrating,” adds Mahoney at his campaign headquarters located in one of those strip plazas one sees on many major Mississauga street corners.

Mahoney, a former 15-year Liberal MPP and MP, former chairman of the WSIB and a cancer survivor, is showing off his brightly polka-dotted socks as he hands me a sample of the 100% compostable bag for kitchen scraps — a bag he invested in and which is being used to distribute his literature.

He urges me to try to the supposedly “leak-proof” bag. I do that very night and discover it does indeed leak (I sincerely hope his campaign promises are far more leak-proof.)

Mahoney makes it clear he thinks he has the “experience” and connections to take Mississauga from the great suburb McCallion created under her leadership to a “huburb” — meaning a hub of entrepreneurship, investment and new innovation.

Truly, the two have eerily similar platforms, although they argue who raised the ideas first: The both want the city to continue to attract foreign investment and entrepreneurs; they want to ensure youth are trained and hired into jobs in Mississauga and they want to build more transit. They also plan to review all city services to see if they are getting value for money and make sure I know they intend to respect taxpayers by keeping future property tax hikes to the rate of inflation.

Mahoney, a smooth talker, will tell you that Crombie wants to create too many advisory councils and task forces. Crombie counters that Mahoney wants to add a “layer of bureaucracy and cost” by establishing a waterfront development corporation.

Crombie says her transit plan is truly regionally integrated (between Mississauga and Toronto) while Mahoney’s campaign plans are “uninspiring.”

Mahoney says his ideas are taken from other municipalities — including community councils similar to Toronto’s — and his plan for a waterfront development corporation is to ensure that Mississauga does not make the same mistakes as Toronto did with its waterfront.

He denies there is any Mahoney “dynasty” trying to take control of council referring to the fact that his wife Katie is stepping down as Ward 8 councillor after 23 years and his son, Matt, is running in her place.

He adds he has five Mississauga councillors “openly, publicly” endorsing him for mayor.

Neither have McCallion’s endorsement but it certainly appears there are close ties between Crombie and the retiring mayor.

Crombie makes it clear that Hurricane Hazel appealed to her to run for the Ward 5 council seat in a 2011 byelection and then for mayor.

“I see my ties as very helpful … she is iconic … I find her inspirational,” adds Crombie, comparing McCallion to Hilary Clinton. “Like her, I do get the job done.”

Crombie figures that Hurricane Hazel would win again if her name were on the ballot in this election.

“She retired when there were candidates there who she had confidence in to run for mayor,” Crombie says, adding her approach will be far more aimed at building consensus compared to McCallion’s bordering on dictatorial style.

Crombie says she has been “very accessible” as a councillor and pledges to continue that when she becomes mayor.

“People will tell you I do work tirelessly … I’m a little bit driven,” Crombie adds, noting her three university-aged kids and husband, also an MBA, are actively involved in her campaign.




Article source: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/09/21/the-battle-to-replace-hurricane-hazel

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