(Written for Town Crier Oct. Eight)
It’s the most exciting race in midtown.
A veteran councillor stepping down after decades of service, and only four candidates gunning to replace him.
So who will take St. Paul’s Ward 22 come election day?
Chris Sellors has worked in outgoing Councillor Michael Walker’s office for almost nine years.
Josh Matlow has been the outspoken St. Paul’s public school trustee since 2003.
William Molls is a bright, articulate local resident who seemed to come out of nowhere. Also on the ballot is Elizabeth Cook, an unknown who registered her name on the last day of nominations.
The main race is between Sellors and Matlow, who have known and worked with each other for the better part of a decade. At one point, they counted each other as friends. As the councillor’s assistant and trustee, they often worked closely together.
Sellors has the endorsement of Walker as well as former prime minister John Turner, former councillor Kay Gardner and others.
Matlow has the backing of St. Paul’s reps MPP Eric Hoskins, MP Carolyn Bennett, former councillor John Adams, and others.
As a political reporter, I started to notice some tension between the Matlow and Sellors well before the campaign officially started. Last year Matlow made it clear he planned to run, prior to Walker’s March 11 announcement of retirement, and Sellors’ nomination that came that same day.
Often times that tension came down to contrasting opinions on the role of the trustee and councillor’s office when it came to issues of schools and redevelopment. That tension briefly erupted at Town Crier’s Oct. 6 debate, when Matlow talked about being able to get residents involved in the project to redevelop North Toronto CI by having them sign a memorandum of understanding.
Sellors responded by saying there were no public meetings on the project held prior to the memorandum being signed.
“Michael Walker championed this at council so unless you took a bathroom break during the whole process (you should know),” Matlow shot back to Sellors about the fact consultations took place.
“Yes, there were public meetings,” Sellors said. “After the memorandum of understanding.”
Making this race tough to call is actually the profile both Sellors and Matlow have in the community.
Sellors brings inside knowledge of how city hall runs and has worked on dozens and dozens of developments and local issues in the ward.
Matlow has the benefit of being an elected official at the school board for seven years, representing the same St. Paul’s communities he wants to govern as councillor.
They both have connections in the ward, both care passionately about the community, development issues, open space, transit, the environment and citizen engagement.
They don’t see eye-to-eye on all issues, including transportation: Matlow endorses the plan for light rapid transit on Eglinton while Sellors favours a full-fledged subway line.
Though these two frontrunners verbally sparred at the debate, they also complimented each other on the assets they bring to the campaign.
And don’t discount 22-year-old Molls. Matlow openly expressed how impressed he is with the young candidate and several residents attending the debate echoed this sentiment.
Likely it’s not Molls’ time to win — this time around. But he should have a good showing on election night. Molls, who was born in the ward and currently lives next to North Toronto CI, joked that as a recent university grad, he is crippled by student debt, but he’s using online media to promote his policies. His top three priorities are: a better transit system, revitalized public space and improving affordable housing.
A fourth contender, Cook is an unknown, though she did attend the Rogers televised ward 22 debate. The Town Crier made several unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with her.
It’s evident how this race will play out on come election night: It will be a battle between Matlow and Sellors with Molls nipping at their heels.