Mississauga councillors toss hats in the ring for mayor’s seat after Crombie’s Liberal win
With the mayor’s chair now up for grabs, Mississauga voters will soon have to decide who will lead their municipality through a critical time for the city—at least two current councillors want the job.
High profile Mississauga politician Carolyn Parrish, once an MP who has served on council for more than a decade, confirmed she will be running to replace Bonnie Crombie in the upcoming byelection, noting she will be resigning from her Ward 5 council seat upon registering her candidacy “so that both contests can take place on the same day, demonstrating full commitment and saving the City hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.”
She will have company on the ballot.
Councillor Stephen Dasko told The Pointer he also plans to run once a byelection is declared.
“We live in the greatest city in the world as far as I’m concerned so I’m looking forward to making an announcement in the future,” Dasko, now in his second term on council, told The Pointer. “I think we need somebody that is a prudent leader, somebody that has vision for the city and somebody that is going to work with people and collaborate.”
“We’re at the 50th anniversary of our city coming into 2024. I think the future is just so bright looking forward but this is a significant turning point and details matter,” he added. “This is where having somebody who has a real passion for the city and where we’re going, I think is vital.”
Councillor Stephen Dasko says he will be seeking the mayor's chair to replace Bonnie Crombie.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
Five months of campaigning brought the result Crombie was looking for on Saturday when she was officially named the latest leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. A day after stepping into her new role as leader of the provincial party, in a video statement on Twitter, Crombie confirmed “my time as the Mayor of Mississauga will be coming to an end” adding she “will be stepping away from the Mayor’s chair this January to take on the important work of reinvigorating the Liberal Party and addressing the problems facing people across the province.”
“This will give me time to pass the 2024 city budget and work with our city manager and council on a thoughtful transition that ensures our residents continue to be well served.”
Her climb up the political ladder comes at a pivotal time in Mississauga’s history, leaving the city in a delicate position as it navigates the separation from the Region of Peel, preparing for the hundreds of millions of dollars in new assets it will be assuming, added responsibilities including public health, housing, paramedics and water utilities, the challenges that will come with untangling its ties to Brampton and Caledon, along with managing major development projects like the Hurontario LRT, the expansion and redevelopment of the Mississauga Hospital, and a Minister’s Zoning Order for the massive Lakeview Village development — all while planning for the future growth expected to flood into the city.
When joining the Liberal leadership race, Crombie assured she would continue to fulfill her obligations in her mayoral role, noting that “when it comes to the point where I cannot, I will take a leave, a formal leave.” During her five-month journey down the campaign trail, Crombie’s political ambitions left Mississauga council members and City staff questioning who would lead Mississauga at the most important point in its history.
In September, after months of juggling her responsibilities as head of council while on the campaign trail, Crombie confirmed she would be taking an unpaid leave of absence from her role as mayor.
Since officially announcing her bid in June, some Mississauga councillors have said that with nearly three years left in the council term, a byelection would be the most appropriate way to replace the City’s current leader.
A City spokesperson explained that “if a vacancy occurs in the office of the head of council, Council has 60 days after the vacancy is declared to pass a bylaw requiring a byelection be held to fill the vacancy,” which would take roughly two to three months to organize.
“During the period between a seat becoming vacant and a new person being permanently sworn in as Head of Council/Mayor through a byelection, members of Council can serve as Acting Mayor/Head of Council on a rotating basis,” the spokesperson added, cautioning that “The rotation cannot continue indefinitely,” and it will be up to councillors to decide how they want to proceed. The current rotation will see Councillor John Kovac fill out the role for the remainder of 2023.
Bonnie Crombie’s departure from her role leaves Mississauga in a state of uncertainty around who will be the next leader.
(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)
As the city navigates its long-awaited independence, some of the largest development projects in its history, and growth pressures from the PC government’s Bill 23, will require a stable leader to guide Mississauga through this unprecedented transition. The coming months will shape Mississauga’s political future as voters decide who will lead them through this critical time in the City’s history.
Councillor Matt Mahoney told The Pointer he has not decided on running but said, “my phone has not stopped ringing in the last two days with calls of encouragement, which I certainly appreciate.” While he ponders his political future, Mahoney said the successful candidate “needs to be someone with experience and the ability to bring the residents of Mississauga together,” adding “The next few years will be an interesting challenge so I believe strong leadership and experience will be required.”
Longtime Councillor Carolyn Parrish says she will be resigning from her Ward 5 council seat upon registering to run for the mayor’s job.
(The Pointer files)
Parrish previously said the city needs a “full time”, “committed” mayor to lead it through the transformation into an independent municipality once Peel Region is dissolved, noting there should be a “fully democratic” byelection to allow residents to choose who will lead the city.
“The residents of Mississauga will be looking for a continuity of the leadership we have experienced over the past 25 years,” Parrish explained. “That stability is directly attributable to strong, experienced leaders. Municipalities depend on the more senior levels of government, especially the Province. The ability to understand and work cooperatively to the advantage of Mississauga is important.”
“Our leader should also be able to relate to the wide range of ethnic, religious and economically challenged residents that inhabit this unique City — especially the growing number who need housing and are forced to use food banks,” she added. “Experience, knowledge, strength, integrity, humanity—all are necessary for a City of our caliber.”
With Crombie winning the Ontario Liberal Party leadership only three days ago, Councillor John Kovac said it’s too early for him to make a decision. As the current acting mayor he said his focus right now “is on the needs of all residents of our City, on behalf of this Council,” adding he “will be working closely with Mayor Crombie as she transitions into her new role and begins this next chapter.”
“While I do not wish to speculate on who may or may not eventually end up running to be Mississauga’s ‘next’ Mayor, I trust that residents will be looking for a candidate with strong leadership abilities, a person with conviction and empathy, and ideally, also someone who has past or present experience in Municipal affairs,” he said.
Recognizing the support from his friends and neighbors encouraging him to consider a bid for the mayor’s seat, Councillor Joe Horneck said he will have to “think on it over the next while and make the best decision for the city and [my] family.”
Questions sent to the remaining councillors went unanswered.
Mississauga voters will likely have to wait till June, as a byelection cannot be planned until Crombie steps aside officially.
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