City councillor Josh Matlow joins the race to become the new Toronto mayor

City councillor Josh Matlow had been a thorn in the side of former mayor John Tory for a long time. Now, the midtown Toronto politician is vying to take the big chair and replace Tory at city hall come June 26.

In a letter announcing his intention to run, Matlow highlighted the city’s sorry state of repair.

“I am running to be our next Mayor. Toronto is a diverse, vibrant, and beautiful city, filled with inspirational people I have been honoured to work with. I know and believe in the promise Toronto holds for so many. But for far too long, our political leadership at City Hall has held this city back from reaching its full potential,” Matlow wrote, in part.

“We have all seen the decline. The snow is not cleared on time, public washrooms are dirty, if they’re even open, and garbage bins are broken and overflowing. Last summer, 923 of Toronto’s 10,340 public waste bins were missing or out of service.”

Matlow was first elected to office as a school board trustee in 2003 before making the jump to city council in 2010.

The 47-year-old politician has made a name for himself at city hall by pressing decision-makers to make choices based on facts and not politics whether it was the Sheppard subway extension, the decision on whether or not to tear down the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway, or to allow for the consumption of alcohol in city parks.

Up until now, political forces greater than any one city councillor on a city council and province that tilts very conservative put Matlow in the minority. This could change.

Just yesterday, Matlow was hammering his way to the facts around the current state of the Gardiner rehabilitation project, the hybrid option that was chosen instead of tearing down the eastern portion. And he made some serious inroads. At some point in this election campaign, it looks like the fate of the Gardiner Expressway will once again become one of the deciding issues.

Matlow has also pushed back on the province’s decision to allow a private, for-profit company to takeover the public Ontario Place site and construct a massive spa.

Currently, Matlow is the only candidate on the middle to left side of the political spectrum with significant experience in municipal government. Gil Penalosa leans further to the left than Matlow, but he has no experience.

Matlow will set himself apart from other candidates by saying yes to taxes, named something he is called a City Works Fund, described as a “dedicated property tax that will cost the average homeowner $67 a year and raise over $390 million dollars over five years to improve the services our communities rely on.”

New taxation isn’t something many candidates begin campaigns announcing, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. It is a fact that Toronto has one of the lowest property tax rates going, so it is in keeping with his mantra of making facts-based decisions and his focus on making the city work for everyone. But appealing to residents who are already finding costs too much to bear will be a challenge.

“The City Works Fund will ensure that buses and streetcars run on time. Libraries are open when your family needs them. Warm places are available for unhoused people to go when it’s cold outside. Streets and sidewalks are cleared so parents with strollers or people with mobility issues can get around safely. Roads aren’t cracked and covered in potholes. Parks and recreation programs are accessible and available,” wrote Matlow, of the new tax plan.

The election is scheduled for June 26. For more information on the upcoming election click here.