TORONTO – Two years ago, Michael Ford was a high school student at Richview Collegiate in Etobicoke.
Now after winning nearly 44 per cent of the vote in Monday’s municipal election, the 20-year-old is a school board trustee in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
“I’m excited for myself, and i’m excited for the students that they have a young voice, not a 56 year old person, i’m going to relate to them,” he said outside of his Etobicoke home.
Michael spent a semester at Wilfred Laurier University after high school before taking time off to get before he took time off to get his pilot’s license.
He then enrolled in the Business Administration program at Humber College for two semesters before entering politics. He was for a brief time during the municipal campaign, a candidate for councillor in Ward 2 but stepped aside and entered the race for school trustee when his uncle, Mayor Rob Ford, entered the ward race.
Michael Ford’s life hasn’t always been the easiest one.
“I have seen the harder times of life at an earlier age, and I think that makes me a better person,” he says when asked about his father, Ennio Stirpe who is presently serving an 18 year sentence for manslaughter.
That violent crime happened while Stirpe was on probation for the manslaughter of his mother’s ex-boyfriend.
Michael hasn’t seen his father since he was four-years-old.
He was raised by his grandparents Diane and Doug Ford Sr. and his mother Kathy, who has also struggled with substance abuse. He refused to talk about details of his parents struggles but says he is close with his mother.
And he said his grandfather is his role model.
“Ever since I was young, he has been a father figure to me, he’s taught me a lot, so has Doug, so has Rob, so has my uncle Randy,” he said.
Michael Ford admits he has advantage because of his last name. But he says he worked hard knocking on doors. He didn’t invest in lawn signs like some of his competitors but still managed to beat out Stephen Hasting, an eight year incumbent.
Stephen Thiele, who ran unsuccessfully in Ward 3, says he was “stunned” by Ford’s victory. He said Hastings was likely a casualty of expense scandals at the tDSB.
And school trustee is oftentimes a staging group for high political office: Kathleen Wynne, Olivia Chow and Mike Harris all began their political careers as school trustees.
When asked if he thinks that one day, he might follow in his uncle Rob’s footsteps to run for mayor, Michael responds “Possibly”.