Toronto Council has elected Maria Augimeri as the new Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission to replace Karen Stintz who resigned the post (but not her seat on the Board) to run for Mayor.
During the nomination process, Mayor Ford attempted to nominate his brother Doug for the position, but he is ineligible as he is not on the Board and there is no vacancy to which he could be appointed. The Mayor attempted to move that his brother replace Commissioner Glen DeBaeremaeker on the Commission, but this was ruled out of order by the Speaker. A notice of motion (or a special meeting of Council) to change the composition of the TTC would be required for future debate.
The result of the vote was:
- Maria Augimeri: 23
- Josh Colle: 21
- Spoiled: 0
- Absent: 1
In speeches before the vote, Augimeri talked of her role as a “caretaker” for the remainder of the term, whereas Colle emphasized that there were many important issues facing the TTC, including labour negotiations. He also mentioned that his constituents are more concerned about being able to get on the Bathurst and Dufferin buses than with new lines on maps.
Colle’s speech was the more forward-looking, but his candidacy may have suffered by association with outgoing Chair Stintz and Mayor Ford. In any event, I hope that both Commissioners will work together and do more than simply minding the store for the coming months. There are important policy discussions that can, at least, be set in motion even if they are not decided until the next Council and Commission. We have had three years of inaction and cutbacks, and now is not the time to sit back and just wait for the election.
Updated February 20, 2014 at 1:00 am:
By contrast with her speech at Council, Maria Augimeri spoke about the importance of service improvements in a press scrum following her election.
In the Globe, Oliver Moore quoted Augimeri:
“I’m very concerned about crowding,” she told reporters shortly after the 23-21 vote at Toronto council, in which the brothers Ford both supported her opponent.
“People feel like sardines and, hopefully, if we can get the buses running better, that’s a one-up on what we’ve done for decades, and that is centre on subways versus LRT and the sexier forms of transit. People ignore the buses and the streetcars, so we want to put more emphasis on those.”
I look forward to Chair Augimeri’s inaugural comments at the TTC Board meeting on February 24.