TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto voters replaced their notorious mayor, Rob Ford, on Monday and rejected an attempt by his brother to take the city’s top job, electing instead a conservative politician and broadcaster who promised to unite a city divided by four years of scandal and vitriol.
John Tory, a former Progressive Conservative party leader in Ontario, won the election in a closer-than-expected race, according to the city’s election website, fighting off a strong challenge by the mayor’s brother, Doug Ford.
With about 99 percent of the ballots counted in Canada’s largest city, Toronto’s election website showed Tory with 40.3 percent of the vote, ahead of Doug Ford’s 33.8 percent. Olivia Chow, a left-leaning former federal politician, came in third with about 23 percent of the vote.
But Rob Ford, who made global headlines last year when he admitted to using crack cocaine while in office, was easily elected to the city council in west Toronto ward, a stronghold for the close-knit political family that has a base of supporters dubbed “Ford Nation.”
Rob Ford withdrew from the mayor’s race in September after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He threw his support to his brother, a city councilor, who took his place on the mayoral ballot, and ran for city council instead on a populist platform of keeping taxes low and ending waste at city hall.
“Folks, I can’t emphasize enough, my brother did an absolutely phenomenal job in the situation,” Rob Ford told his supporters at a rally after the vote.
Elected with about 59 percent of the vote in the ward his brother Doug Ford had held, the mayor said he would continue to fight for the ordinary people and hinted at bigger goals in the 2018 election.
“I look forward to the next four years. I can’t wait,” Rob Ford said. “I’m just warming up, trust me.”
Rob Ford dropped out of the election after doctors revealed he has malignant liposarcoma, an aggressive type of cancerous tumor, in his abdomen. He is undergoing treatment in Toronto.
Tory, riding on a groundswell of “anyone but Ford” sentiment, was endorsed by every major newspaper in Toronto, home to about 6 million people.
He has pledged to improve Toronto’s overcrowded and aging public transit, identified by most voters as a top priority in the campaign.
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson, Peter Galloway, Ken Wills and Lisa Shumaker