NEWS
03/31/2016 05:00 EDT | Updated 04/01/2017 01:12 EDT

Rob Ford left legacy of customer service for Doug Ford to follow, supporters say

A reggae band played One Love, Doug Ford gave a speech and for one last time hundreds of Ford Nation supporters waved flags proclaiming Rob Ford Toronto's best mayor ever.

Ford, the controversial former mayor who was serving as Ward 2 councillor at the time of his death last week, leaves behind a more than decade-long career at city hall.  There has been plenty of criticism. But on Wednesday night it was all praise.

The Ford supporters in the crowd — and it's safer to say Ford, in general as Doug Ford was swarmed after his speech and urged to run for mayor again — were clear about what they want from anyone who represents them in the future.

Customer service.

Michael Nanchoff, a construction worker who carried a Ford campaign sign with him throughout the evening, said the former mayor leaves behind a legacy of customer service that every other councilor at city hall should trying to match.

"Councillors don't get it. There's still no respect for the people," Nanchoff told CBC News.

Yes, Ford led a tumultuous life and "lessons need to be learned" by Ford Nation, he said, but anyone who enters office needs to be accessible the way that Ford was. Even if you're the mayor.

Mohammed Uddin said that he put communication with residents at the heart of his 2014 run for Ward 18 councillor, something he said was inspired by a city hall meeting with Ford.

"We have to be more transparent," Uddin said.

"You call me, I receive your call — because you elect me. That's the way it should be."

Uddin would finish third in that race, perhaps proving there's more than customer service when it comes to the Fords.

'The more Fords the merrier'

For some, there's a fierce loyalty.

Teacher Grace Adamo said she predicts Doug Ford will take over his brother's seat in council then become mayor in the next general election. She said she even thinks he'd make a good prime minister.

"I think the door has opened and he's the perfect candidate," Adamo said.

Doug Ford, who served one term on council and finished second in the 2014 mayoral election after Rob dropped out due to health issues, didn't declare his intentions on Wednesday night, though he did say Ford Nation would remain strong and be heard across the country.

Yvonne Byfield said she wants another Ford to represent the Etobicoke riding and said it could be Doug Ford — "he would be a great guy, just like his brother" — or someone else, like school trustee Michael Ford, nephew of Rob and Doug.

"The more Fords the merrier," she said.

Byfield sang gospel songs along with several others as she waited in the cool afternoon air for the event to begin. She said she'll remember Ford as a caring man, who did thinks for the poor people of Etobicoke. The people who nobody remember, she said.

It's 10 p.m., do you know where your mayor is?

Steve Boyce, who was among the first to line up on Wednesday night, said councilors also need to be in the community.

Ford, he said, wasn't afraid to go to neighbourhoods like Jane and Finch alone, nor was he a stranger to the city's social housing buildings.

"Where's John Tory at 10 o' clock at night? Sitting at home eating his lobster dinner," Boyce said.

Boyce also blasted council's move to give itself a two per cent pay raise in 2016.

"I'll tell you what's happened since Rob left, the gravy train has started running again," he said, referring to Ford's famous 2010 campaign slogan.

Etobicoke resident Lewis Cassar, a soft-spoken Ford backer who attended the event with his wife, Mary, said he can't complain about Tory, but hopes a Ford will continue in his ward.

Rob Ford helped him get his sidewalk fixed, he said. Rob Ford helped him get more regular bus service in the area (something the TTC failed to do).

"That's what I want from a politician," Cassar said.