Kristyn Wong-Tam will be returning to city hall as councillor for the third term in a row, representing residents from Ward 13 under Toronto’s new 25-ward model. The newly elected Toronto Centre councillor celebrated her victory Monday night at The Jason George on Front Street along with about 50 other people. Her win was not unexpected, as polls consistently showed her in first place.
Wong-Tam finished well ahead of her challengers, winning approximately 50 per cent of the vote. Running against 18 other candidates, she managed to pull ahead of George Smitherman, former Ontario cabinet minister, by over 10,000 votes. Lucy Troisi, who represented Ward 28 after the death of Pam McConnell in 2017, came in third.
“It’s a humbling experience and I’m very grateful for the support of the residents who gave us a resounding mandate to go back to city hall,” Wong-Tam said. “They supported a positive vision, they believed in our progressive values, and it’s going to be a deep honour for me to continue serving the community.”
Wong-Tam was first elected as a councillor in 2010 in Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale, under a 44-ward model. She was re-elected in 2014. During this year’s campaign, she said her focus was on community building. She said that, if re-elected, she would work to create safer communities and advocate for gun control. She also campaigned on the need for more affordable housing.
“The cost of living in Toronto is continuing to rise and under that of course is transportation, housing, even the cost of food,” Wong-Tam said. “And yet at the same time, work has become far more precarious, wages have stagnated, the cost of borrowing is very high and student loans are at an all-time high. So I think we need to be able to rethink and reframe how we actually live together in this city. It can’t be just profit over people.”
Wong-Tam is an openly gay councillor and advocates for LGBTQ rights. In her victory speech, she said she wants to build a city that is inclusive and liveable for all types of people. To do this, she said that she would like to work with candidates who ran “positive and uplifting” campaigns, especially given the “challenges” posed by a smaller council.
This inclusivity is something candidate Gladys Larbie said she felt was missing throughout the election.
“I think as candidates, we failed to get residents to believe and feel like they mattered under the new system,” she said. “I think the race turnout was abysmal. [There are] 120,000 people [living in the ward] and less than 30,000 voted. Not impressive.”
Candidate Richard Forget, who appeared at Wong-Tam’s election party to congratulate her, put a more positive spin on the results.
“I am very happy that the winning candidate for Ward 13 had over 50 per cent of the votes,” he said. “I call that democracy and I agree with the voters no matter what.”
The cheering and excitement around the room seemed to mimic Forget’s positivity and support of Wong-Tam.
“There was very good debates (sic) and some very good ideas exchanged and I’m sure Kristyn will take some to city hall,” Forget said. “I’m sure things will change in Toronto in the next four years. Voters won as a whole.”