It has been, to make the grossest of understatements, an eventful year.But with Monday's mayoral election, Torontonians will look to the future — either sticking with the legacy of incumbent mayor and controversy magnet Rob Ford, or striking out in a new direction.
Here are a few points to consider, in advance of Monday's decision:
One nation, under Fords
Whatever the outcome of the mayoral vote, the Ford Nation brand will likely go on. Though Rob Ford dropped out of the mayoral race last month — after doctors found a malignant tumour in his stomach — he side-stepped into the race for Ward 2, the seat he held for years before it was taken over by his brother, Doug.
Even if Doug, now running for mayor in Rob's place, does not take the top job at city hall, Rob is expected to reclaim Ward 2. Meanwhile a third Ford — Michael, nephew to Rob and Doug — is also expected to win a school trustee race in the same area.
Break from tradition?
If the election goes to either John Tory or Olivia Chow, it will mark the first time in recent memory Toronto has elected a mayor who wasn't a part of the previous term's city council.
Chow was on council for many years but jumped to federal politics in 2006, spending eight years as the MP for the downtown riding of Trinity-Spadina. She did an about-face earlier this year, returning to local politics with her run for mayor.
Tory has never held a job at city hall, though he ran for mayor in 2003, coming in a close second to David Miller.Tory also once led the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
Doug Ford was first elected to council in 2010, to the same seat his brother vacated upon becoming mayor.
This election has already seen high voter turnout. More than twice as many people cast early ballots this time, compared to four years ago — adding up to 161,147 votes across the city's 44 wards between Oct. 14 and 19.
More than the usual number of celebrities have chimed in on this election. Lena Dunham of HBO's Girls, Daily Show host Jon Stewart and former wrestler Hossein (The Iron Sheik) Khosrow Ali Vaziri have voiced their support for Olivia Chow.
Chow also received campaign donations from authors Margaret Atwood and Vincent Lam, filmmaker Sarah Polley and actors Shirley Douglas and Sonja Smits.
Former Toronto Argonaut Michael (Pinball) Clemons, television personality Aliya-Jasmine Sovani and TSN's Michael Landsberg have all endorsed John Tory. Toronto Sun journalist Mike Strobel declared himself a Ford supporter, though his paper officially endorsed Tory.
All this star power follows the parade of notables who popped up amid the drama of Rob Ford's tenure, including Will Ferrell, Hulk Hogan, Drake, Jimmy Kimmel and Kevin Spacey.
Long, winding road
Officially, the election process started on Jan. 2, the first day nominations were accepted, and election signs did not appear on Toronto lawns until earlier this month. But casual observers can be forgiven for thinking the campaigns have been going much longer.
Rob Ford started pointing to the Oct. 27 election around this time last year, amid calls for his resignation over his admitted crack use, saying voters would decide then if he should keep his job as mayor.
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