Ward 19 Beaches-East York was one of the closest races in Toronto’s 2018 municipal election. It was only one of two “open” wards out of 25 — meaning no incumbent councillor was seeking re-election.
Earlier this year, Councillor Janet Davis (old Ward 31) and Mary-Margaret McMahon (old Ward 32) announced that they were not running again for Council. Davis, a prominent member of council’s left wing, endorsed Diane Dyson, a community activist, as a candidate for Ward 35, which had similar boundaries to Davis’ ward. There were ten other candidates, including David Del Grande, a product manager and former provincial Green Party candidate, and musician Brenda MacDonald, who ran against Davis in the last two elections.
Meanwhile McMahon, a centrist, endorsed Brad Bradford, a city staffer who worked for the office of the Chief Planner at City Hall. There were eleven candidates running in Ward 37 (mostly congruent with old Ward 32), including Matthew Kellway, the former NDP MP for Beaches-East York, Joshua Makuch, a management consultant and a Canadian Forces veteran who served in Afghanistan, and Valérie Maltais, an environmental scientist.
Like so many races across the city, Doug Ford’s Bill 5 changed the dynamics completely. The two wards were merged into Ward 19. Five candidates withdrew from the tougher race, but there were still 16 candidates having to run in a much larger area than they planned for.
Councillor Janet Davis switched her allegiance from Diane Dyson to fellow New Democrat Matthew Kellway. Brad Bradford was endorsed by both Jennifer Keesmaat, his former boss, and John Tory, who likely wanted a more centrist councillor in Ward 19 than Kellway. It became a two-way race, with Tory and McMahon campaigning hard for Bradford, with Kellway having the support of Davis and fellow NDP politicians and activists. Kellway had the support of the Toronto Star’s editorial board, while Bradford had the endorsement of the Toronto Sun.
In the end, Brad Bradford won with 38.6 percent of the vote, while Kellway took 37.8 percent, with a difference of just 288 votes. Joshua Makuch came in a distant third, with 6.2 percent of the vote, and Diane Dyson placed fourth.
Kellway came in first place in the advance polls. But on election day, Bradford placed first in 33 polls, while Kellway placed first in 28 polls. Brenda MacDonald came first in Poll 45. Only five votes were cast in Poll 20, which was a five-way tie.
Kellway’s best results were north of Danforth Avenue, especially in the east, along Lumsden Avenue and Dawes Road. This area encompasses several Toronto Community Housing buildings and the lower-income Crescent Town neighbourhood. The support and organization from outgoing councillor Janet Davis probably helped, as did Kellway’s record as NDP MP. Had Toronto stayed with the 47 wards, it’s very likely that Diane Dyson would won in Ward 35, given Davis’ previous endorsement. Either way, the support of Mary Margaret McMahon and John Tory would have seen Brad Bradford win in Ward 37. Tory now has a new ally on council.
The south half of Ward 19 is more affluent and less diverse than the area north of Danforth Avenue. Old Ward 31, north of Danforth Avenue and represented by Davis, had a 2016 median household income of $61,575. Old Ward 32, south of Danforth Avenue and represented by McMahon, had a 2016 median household income of $84,445. In the north half, 42.1 percent of the population identifies as a visible minority, compared to 24.3 south of The Danforth.
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