Saturday, March 29, 2014

No shortage of fringe mayoral candidates with a message in Toronto's 2014 election

TORONTO - You don’t have to be a millionaire to run for mayor.

But fringe candidates in every election cling to a nearly impossible dream.

They’re lucky if they get a few hundred to a couple of thousand votes.

The candidate with the fewest votes, of the 40 who were registered in 2010 — Gerald Derome — had 251.

In contrast, Rob Ford received more than 383,501 ballots cast for him. George Smitherman came in second with almost 290,000. Rocco Rossi in fourth got just over 5,000 — and he had withdrawn from the race, although it was too late to remove his name from the ballot.

Every candidate after Rossi scored below 3,500.

This year, 41 have registered to win the big job, according to the city’s election website.

Although the actual fight is currently between five front-runners, if voters really want a fresh face in office, there’s no shortage of them in this race.

There’s Charles Huang, who makes it pretty clear he’s running as a joke.

There’s Morgan Baskin, the 18-year-old high school graduate fed up with the negativity surrounding city politics.

There’s Michael Tasevski, the 23-year-old Ryerson University politics grad who says he can hold his own in a debate with John Tory and Olivia Chow.

There’s pot advocate Matt Mernagh, who wants to address accessibility issues and also wonders whether the daily pain he suffers — and treats with medicinal marijuana — would hinder him on the campaign trail or even in office.

Planks of some of their platforms indicate they have Ford fatigue and also challenge the front-runners to perhaps be more human than politician.

Professor Nelson Wiseman of the University of Toronto says fringe candidates don’t take away from the meatier issues in an election.

“It would be a failure if we went through this whole election and nowhere in the Toronto Sun was it ever noted that there were other people running,” he said.

But he himself doesn’t know any of the fringe candidates because there names won’t matter come election night when the final vote is tallied.

“Unless they’re hallucinating, all of them know they don’t have a chance,” he said.

So why do people run in the face of almost inevitable defeat?

Wiseman said candidates know their reasons best. But to put your name on a ballot for just $200 and “have a million eyeballs exposed to it” could be one.

“So their names might not appear in the paper, but they’re going to be on every single ballot,” he said.
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