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City councillor Brad Bradford to run for mayor of Toronto with a focus on TTC safety

The city councillor vows to be a ‘strong mayor of action’ who would get city council to focus on priorities and not dither or delay.
March 29, 2023
David Rider

Vowing to be a “strong mayor of action” if elected, Coun. Brad Bradford is confirming his candidacy in the June 26 byelection to replace John Tory.

“I will be running for mayor and filing my papers,” on Monday, the first day possible, Bradford told the Star after earlier announcing that he was strongly considering mounting a challenge in what is shaping up to be a crowded field.

The 36-year-old avid cyclist and former city planner was not prepared Tuesday to reveal any platform planks beyond citing his priorities if elected, and the fact that he will move quickly and decisively to address them.

“City council is constantly consumed in talk, debate, delay on deferral on issues that are really important to residents, so I’m running to be a strong mayor of action and really here to deliver results for people across the city,” Bradford said.

He said his campaign will focus heavily on community safety, especially on the TTC following the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes at Keele subway station.

“You line up on any platform, you see people’s backs pressed up against the wall,” said the Beaches--East York representative.

“We talk about ridership needing to return to the city, to return to transit,” after the pandemic. “People are not going to do that if, first and foremost, they’re not safe.”

The chair of the planning and housing committee, who was a strong ally of Tory until his resignation as mayor last month, also plans to focus on housing affordability and reversing a visible “decline” in city facilities including parks and recreation centres.

Bradford’s declared opponents for the mayor’s chair include: council colleague Josh Matlow, former colleague Ana Bailao, former police chief Mark Saunders, urbanist Gil Penalosa, and policy analyst Chloe Brown, former councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and former Toronto Sun columnist Anthony Furey. Penalosa and Brown finished second and third respectively to Tory in last October’s election.

People who have said they are considering running for mayor include Coun. Stephen Holyday, Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter and former councillor and NDP MP Olivia Chow.

Bradford’s budding campaign, supported by a mix of Conservative and Liberal political strategists, is already under fire from opponents using polished social media messaging to portray him as a fake progressive supported by elite lobbyists.

Bradford declined to fire back, saying in an interview that he is not in a particular political camp and the election debate needs to be about “less talk and more action from city hall ... and someone who is not afraid to make those types of decisions, even if they are unpopular decisions.”