New poll reveals veteran Mississauga politician Carolyn Parrish is the early front runner in mayoral race
As councillors announce their intention to vie for Mississauga’s vacant mayoral seat, a recent poll revealed one well known political veteran is leading the pack.
A new Liaison Strategies poll, commissioned by the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, shows high-profile Mississauga politician Carolyn Parrish is favoured in the race to replace Bonnie Crombie. The veteran Ward 5 councillor, who took over that seat from Crombie in 2014 when she became the head of council, is hoping to do the same following the former mayor’s decision to lead the Ontario Liberal Party. Parrish leads her nearest potential competitor, Councilllor Dipika Damerla, by 11 percentage points among decided voters and six points among all voters, according to the poll.
The survey, released January 15, revealed Parrish has the support of 35 percent of those residents who responded and identified as decided voters. Damerla, who recently confirmed she will be running in the upcoming by-election, followed with 24 percent. The Ward 7 councillor, now in her second term, was previously the Liberal MPP for Mississauga East—Cooksville, winning elections in 2011 and 2014.
Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish, pictured with the late Hazel McCallion in 2022, is in the lead to replace former mayor Bonnie Crombie, according to a recent poll.
Councillor Stephen Dasko, who has publicly stated his intention to run once a by-election is declared, was tied in fifth among the candidates listed with 6 percent support, trailing behind Councillor Alvin Tedjo, who was third at 16 percent but has not officially confirmed he will run.
According to the survey, 49 percent of voters indicated they were undecided.
Liaison Strategies polled 983 Mississauga voters (with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent 19 times out of 20) — screened for eligibility and residency — that were asked who they would vote for if councillors Parrish, Damerla, Dasko and Tedjo ran. Other names used in the poll include former mayoral candidate George Tavares, who confirmed in an email to The Pointer on Monday he will be running, as well as former municipal candidate Christine Simundson and former mayoral candidate David Shaw, who came second to Crombie in 2022 (he garnered less than ten percent of the support she won with).
According to a recent poll, Councillor Carolyn Parrish is the front runner among decided voters in the upcoming Mississauga by-election to replace former mayor Bonnie Crombie.
The survey was released two days before council officially declared Crombie’s seat vacant on January 17 — triggering the process to hold a by-election, likely around late spring or early summer.
Parrish has made clear that she will resign her council seat once the by-election period begins, to save taxpayers money by limiting Mississauga to one by-election, for both the mayor’s seat and any councillors who vacate their position to run for the head of council role. No other council candidates have committed to the same cost-saving measure, and if current councillors do not go along with Parrish’s plan, that would trigger a second by-election, if one of the current councillors wins the mayor’s race.
With nearly three years left in the council term, Mississauga councillors have said a by-election is the most appropriate way to replace the former mayor. And with the City’s “strong mayor powers,” granted by the Province last June, a City spokesperson recently told The Pointer a by-election is the only way forward.
“In Mississauga, a vacant mayoral seat must be filled through a by-election, as dictated by s. 284.12 of the Municipal Act, 2001. Although s. 263 provides for the appointment of mayors, it does not apply to municipalities such as the City of Mississauga that have been given ‘strong mayor powers,’” a City spokesperson explained. “Council then has 60 days to pass a by-law requiring a by-election for the vacant seat. Staff will prepare a report outlining the timing for a by-election,” which would take roughly two to three months to organize.
After confirming her intentions to run in the upcoming by-election to replace Crombie, Parrish previously told The Pointer she plans to resign from her Ward 5 seat “as a matter of principle” upon entering the race “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.” As a veteran of municipal and federal politics, having previously served the city as an MP for 13 years, and on council now for more than a decade, the Liaison Strategies survey shows Parrish is a well known figure in the city’s political scene.
Dasko and Damerla have not signalled whether they intend to resign their council seat, meaning Mississauga residents could see multiple by-elections take place this year, with taxpayers incurring additional costs, while those in one ward would have to go to the polls twice, if a current councillor wins the mayor’s race and if the by-elections are not held at the same time.
One significant advantage for any candidate would be an endorsement from Crombie, who has not yet indicated her support for any particular potential successor. Her popularity was illustrated by her huge winning margin in the 2022 municipal election, when she received nearly 80 percent of the vote, more than ten times the support of her nearest challenger. Crombie’s widespread popularity helped her win the race to become the provincial Liberal party’s new leader.
Councillor Dipika Damerla has recently confirmed her plan to run in the upcoming mayoral by-election.
(The Pointer files)
To replace Crombie, the Mississauga spokesperson confirmed to The Pointer councillors are not required to resign their seat to run in the mayoral by-election. “If a Councillor resigns to run for the Mayoral position, Council can choose to either appoint somebody to fill the seat for the remainder of the term or choose to have a by-election.” Staff would then be required to prepare a report outlining the timing for a by-election that would be voted on by City Council, costing the City hundreds of thousands in additional election costs.
Costs for previous City of Mississauga by-elections were $458,000 in 2011 for the Ward 5 seat on council — won by Crombie — and $275,000 in 2015 when Councillor John Kovac became the Ward 4 representative. The City spokesperson noted “These by-elections were for one ward vs city-wide, so the costs are not comparable to what we will be undertaking this year for the mayoral by-election,” adding “the estimated cost of a mayoral by-election will be approximately $3.5 million and will be funded from election reserves.”
A ward by-election could cost up to $500,000, according to the spokesperson.
“If the Councillor does not resign their seat to run in the Mayoral by-election and wins the Mayoral by-election, they would either resign their ward seat or it would be deemed vacant when they are sworn in as Mayor,” the spokesperson explained. “At that time Council could either appoint a person to fill the ward seat for the remainder of the term or, within 60 days, pass a by- law requiring a by-election for the vacant seat. Staff would then prepare a report outlining the timing for a by-election.”
Now that Crombie’s seat has been declared vacant, Mississauga voters will likely have to wait until June to find out who their next leader will be. Mississauga staff are expected to provide a report on January 31 about the mayoral by-election timing.
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