Toronto election: When political allies become friendly foes vying for the same council seat

Click to play video: 'Incumbents fight for votes in Ward 14 Toronto–Danforth' Incumbents fight for votes in Ward 14 Toronto–Danforth
WATCH ABOVE: Toronto's election features 11 races where incumbents are fighting another incumbent in the new 25-ward system. Matthew Bingley caught up with council allies Mary Fragedakis and Paula Fletcher who are vying for the same votes in Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth – Oct 12, 2018

With the number of Toronto city council seats cut nearly in half, voters in 11 wards will see two incumbent councillors squaring off in the Oct. 22 election — something that is presenting a challenge for electors this time.

“We have two great incumbents in our ward who have done good things, so it’s really hard to pick because I feel like regardless of who wins, it will be a bit of a loss,” Laura Adams told Global News on Friday, adding she is still undecided on who she will support.

“Then there’s a lot of new people as well.”

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Adams currently lives in Ward 29, which is represented by Mary Fragedakis. The constituency will merge with Ward 30, which is represented by Paula Fletcher, to become the new Ward 14 Toronto–Danforth.

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There will be 25 wards for the 2018 to 2022 term of office instead of 47 wards as a result of a Court of Appeal for Ontario decision last month. It granted the provincial government’s request to stay a lower court judge’s decision that set aside a law passed earlier this year by the Doug Ford government called Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act. The 25 wards align with provincial and federal ridings.

Elvira Cordileone lives in the new Ward 14 and said with two current councillors running to represent the same area, “a different set of questions come into play.”

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“The incumbent in what used to be my ward had been there for so many years. You get to know them and their positions and so on,” she said.

“But at the same time, sometimes you think it’s good to have a new configuration in the council. Sometimes, people maybe stay on a bit too long — and you get a different dynamic.”

Both Fragedakis and Fletcher said they’re not targeting each other, or the other candidates, personally.

“I’m actually campaigning for the job … There are 10 people in this race and I try to just talk about what I’ve done, my record, and what I intend to do going forward should I be re-elected,” Fragedakis said.

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“Look, it’s tough … That’s not what we planned on at the start of the year when we talked about both putting forward our names in the 47-ward contest.”

Fletcher, along with Fragedakis, criticized the provincial government’s decision, adding it has created issues for candidates and residents.

“I think people are really wondering how to proceed and what they know about each of us,” Fletcher said.

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“It’s really terrible to be forced in a situation to be running against someone that I’ve been very close to and helped get elected in 2010 when she first ran … We are running to be elected, we’re not running against one another.”

Chris Budo, who is running against both incumbents, said he has been personally campaigning up to 14 hours a day recently. He said he originally filed his papers to run under the 47-ward model in May and has been canvassing ever since then. Budo said he’s talking about the themes of affordability and change with residents as he tries to counter name recognition and incumbency advantages.

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“We’re going tit-for-tat for every single sign Paula Fletcher has up, Mary Fragedakis has up,” he said while touting the importance of having a strong on-the-ground effort.

“We’re trying to sway the supporters who would never vote for them, the ones in the previous elections … they’re looking for someone new to take [the ward] over.”

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When reflecting on issues they’ve dealt with as councillors, Fragedakis and Fletcher said although there are many similar concerns, whoever wins will have quite a bit to get up to speed on.

“The boundary increases by another 50- to 60,000 people and then you’re in a more diverse area than you were before with some similar issues, and yet at the same time, some really different issues that we don’t have up here in the north end of Toronto–Danforth,” Fragedakis said.

“My ward has a lot of action down here: The Port Lands, the Unilever site, we’ve got the Relief Line going through here. There’s a lot of big issues that I talk about and people know how I approach things,” Fletcher said.

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Also running to be councillor for Ward 14 are Lanrick Bennett, Dixon Chan, Marisol D’Andrea, Ryan Lindsay, Lawrence Lychowyd, Chris Marinakis and Alexander Pena.

— With files from Matthew Bingley

Here are Toronto’s 25 new wards (2018-2022 term of city council)

Toronto’s current ward boundaries (until Dec. 1)


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