10/12/2014 03:23 EDT | Updated 12/12/2014 05:59 EST

Hazel McCallion lends support to mayoral hopeful Bonnie Crombie

Mississauga mayoral candidate Bonnie Crombie claimed the support of long-time outgoing Mayor Hazel McCallion on Sunday in a move that could tilt a tight election race in her favour.

- LISTEN | Bonnie Crombie on CBC's Metro Morning

- LISTEN | Steve Mahoney on CBC's Metro Morning

“I say to you, look at the programs — and you have to — of the chief candidates that are running, and I have every confidence that when you review it, you will vote for Bonnie Crombie,” McCallion said at an event hosted by leaders of the city’s large Chinese community on Friday.

McCallion’s comments were filmed and included as part of a press release distributed by the Crombie campaign.

“I say to the young people: Bonnie is young and ambitious and she works hard and she’s got some new ideas and I hope these new ideas will come forward,” McCallion said.

Interestingly, neither the campaign’s press release nor McCallion used the word “endorsement.”

Crombie’s primary competitor in the race Steve Mahoney, however, issued a statement Sunday conceding that McCallion’s appearance at several of Crombie’s campaign events, and her comments earlier in the week, amount to an endorsement.

“Today, Mayor McCallion announced who she will be supporting for Mayor of Mississauga. I respect the Mayor’s decision and there will be many more endorsements to come during the course of this campaign,” the statement read.

“I agree with Ms. Crombie when she says that this election will not be decided by any one member of city council, but by the voters.”

Mahoney was previously a provincial Liberal cabinet minister and Mississauga city councillor. Crombie is also a former Liberal MP, and is currently a city councillor.

Recent polling data indicated that Crombie and Mahoney were running nearly neck-and-neck in recent weeks. It remains to be seen what effect McCallion’s support will have on the Oct. 27 vote, but many observers consider it the most coveted endorsement in the city’s mayoral election.

The 93-year-old McCallion was first elected in 1978 and will leave office this year as the longest- serving mayor in Mississauga's history.