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Poll shows Steven Del Duca set to win Vaughan mayoral election
Oct. 20, 2022

Former Liberal leader Steven Del Duca has a strong lead in the Vaughan, Ont., mayoral election, a Mainstreet poll shows.

Del Duca has a 10-point lead over his nearest challenger, Coun. Sandra Yeung Racco.

However, 50 per cent of voters say they're undecided even though the election is this coming Monday.

"We're less than a week out," said Ashley Csanady, a senior consultant with McMillan Vantage Policy Group. "That high level of undecided does definitely show a low level of engagement. So I'm concerned (about) what that will mean for the ballot box."

Deb Schulte, a former Vaughan councillor and two-term Liberal MP, registered to run but withdrew for health reasons.

That decision made the election far easier for Del Duca, Csanady said.

"I think it would have been a tougher race for Stephen Del Duca (if Schulte had been able to continue)," she said. "I think we can't underestimate the fact that her dropping out made it an easier race for Steven."

"He pushed hard for a number of infrastructure projects in the region when he was a cabinet minister, and they got a subway station. I think it would have maybe been a much closer race, but I still think Steven would have been a very strong contender."

Del Duca, who led the provincial Liberals to defeat in the 2022 election, failed in his bid to win the Vaughan-Woodbridge seat. He served two terms as a Liberal MPP, the second as Kathleen Wynne's transport minister, but lost his seat in the 2018 election.

Maurizio Bevilacqua, Vaughan's current mayor, is not running again. Bevilacqua, who had previously been a Liberal MP for more than two decades, was elected to the Vaughan mayoralty three times, and by overwhelming majorities in 2014 and 2018.

Del Duca is not the only former party leader to run to be mayor of an Ontario city: former NDP leader Andrea Horwath is running in Hamilton, and former PC leader Patrick Brown is running for re-election in Brampton.

A quirk of scheduling in Ontario's elections means that local elections will permanently happen about five months after provincial elections every four years until something happens to break that cycle at Queen's Park, Csanady points out.

That means that a string of politicians who for one reason or another are disappointed in a provincial election have about the right amount of time to pivot to running for local office instead, for better or worse.

"Does that mean that running for municipal roles will become the runners-up go-to in Ontario? I really hope not. Because I think the municipal level is just as important as the provincial level and has a direct impact on people's lives."

"Do I want us to end up in a situation where in every municipal election all the councillor candidates are failed provincial candidates and all the mayoral candidates are failed provincial candidates? That's probably not good for our democracy. I just think it's interesting that’s now going to be our cycle."