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41 Comments

politics

David Soknacki Launches Mayoral Campaign

Former councillor and budget chief wants to usher in a new era of transparency at City Hall.

david soknacki launch

“Toronto is facing serious challenges. It’s not only transit gridlock, but also political gridlock.”

David Soknacki thinks he is the candidate who can help break that logjam. The 59 year old former city councillor from Scarborough—a conservative who was also David Miller’s pragmatic choice for budget chief, and who currently runs the spice company he founded nearly 30 years ago—is now officially running for mayor. The theme of his campaign on its first day: I am the sensible guy who can keep it together.

He didn’t need to utter the words “Rob Ford” for the message to be clear.

“If we’re going to change our city for the better we need to have levelheaded, practical, and productive leadership,” Soknacki said. “The first step in bringing a new, positive agenda to Toronto, and bringing responsible management to the office of the mayor, is to be transparent, so the public can see clearly that City Hall is operating with the standards that they expect and that they deserve.”

To that end, Soknacki launched his campaign not with soaring rhetoric, pithy slogans, or detailed policy pronouncements, but with some promises regarding the ethics of his mayoral bid. Among them:

  • Pre-emptively disclosing campaign donations. Candidates must by law disclose all donors who contribute more than $100; that information is made public a few months after an election is held. Many candidates voluntarily disclose their donor lists just prior to election day; in 2010 this included Rob Ford and Joe Pantalone. Soknacki’s promise on this issue, therefore, isn’t breaking major new ground, though he is promising to release information as he goes—with quarterly in March and June, and then real-time updates as of Labour Day—rather than doing one big release of information right before we head to the polls.
  • Disclosing any meetings with lobbyists during the campaign period. (Legally, this only needs to be reported once someone has been elected.)
  • If elected, Soknacki says he’ll have an arms-length relationship with his own business. Given the nature of that business he says its unlikely anyone would have worries about conflicts of interest, but he adds, “Torontonians have a right to expect that my business headquarters will not be used as a private city hall by myself, my friends, or my political allies.” The suggestion that other mayors with large private businesses might do so was unspoken but clear.
  • If elected, maintaining and publishing a detailed schedule, so that “citizens, reporters, and watchdog organizations will never have to make freedom of information requests to access this information ever again.” Once more, the implied contrast with Ford was clear.

Soknacki quickly acknowledged that he’ll have an uphill climb—most Torontonians haven’t heard of or don’t remember him—but maintains that in a 10 month campaign, it’s certainly possible. (There’s some precedent for this: a little-known councillor named David Miller was polling in the single digits when he launched his run for mayor in 2003.) The silver lining his campaign staff is counting on: analysis of existing polls shows that of the people who have heard of Soknacki, a significant percentage of them like him and would consider voting for him.

At the end of his press conference came a question that seemed to take Soknacki by surprise. “Have you ever smoked crack cocaine?” asked the Sun‘s Don Peat. Soknaski’s answer: “Zero. No.” And then: “No, I’m not nearly that interesting.”

It’s not usually a good sales pitch. But in Toronto in 2014, it actually has a shot.

Comments

  • HotDang

    “Have you ever smoked crack cocaine?”

    Here’s hoping that Ford’s many foibles aren’t the focus of the campaign. He’s a disgrace and should be relegated to side-show status. Let’s talk about city issues, not personal ones. Leave the clown to shuffle off in disgrace.

    • dsmithhfx

      Ford’s behavior is a city issue, and it won’t go away until he does. He himself made it one, by refusing to deal with it openly and honestly when he had the chance. And he is still in denial. So the issue is still there: he is untrustworthy, and unfit for office. Advantage Soknacki.

      • HotDang

        I’m entirely fine with people pointing out that Ford is unfit for office, but I would love it if the election was about something other than “Rob Ford is terrible.”

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      A laudable sentiment to be sure, but unrealistic. I’m afraid that Ford has dragged us down into the mud with him and that there will be a lot of talk about his disgraceful behaviour. Given the amount of bickering that goes on about Ford, there really is no way he won’t be an issue along with transit etc.

      • Dave

        It would be such a shame if this campaign sidesteps all the important issues and becomes a referendum on Ford’s antics. And yet as long as he’s running, I think we’re virtually assured that this will happen. He has indeed dragged us into the mud with him – and he’ll do the same to all the other candidates.

    • Jonathan McKinnell

      And so it begins…… Mind providing some reasons you think he’s a disgrace so the rest of us can be included in your amazing thought process?

      • dsmithhfx

        You been hiding under a rock?

        • nevilleross

          ‘Hiding under a rock?’ No, more like sniffing his cock (or hiding under a rock and sniffing his cock.)

      • Dinah Might

        I don’t think this comment system can handle posts of over 300,000 words, so I don’t blame him for not itemizing the various reasons covered extensively in every news outlet over the past year or so.

      • vampchick21

        Seriously? Do you really need a point by point? Do you have short term memory problems or ADHD?

      • Jonathan McKinnell

        Alright alright I get it, this guy is well known. I’ll do my own research. Thanks….

        • vampchick21

          So you really haven’t been paying attention since 2010?

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Get back to work, those Deco labels won’t print themselves.

        • dsmithhfx

          It’s difficult to astroturf and operate a trimmer at the same time.

      • nevilleross

        I guess working all of the time at a job and then coming home to watch a ton of TV dulls the wits somewhat, huh buddy?

        Next time you log on, do some checking on the Internet about Rob Ford and read what’s been published about the scandals and the other nonsense going on before you ask stupid questions.

    • Lee Zamparo

      The constant lies in face of evidence otherwise are what worry me; consistent dishonesty of the chief magistrage is a city issue. Crack just happens to be the most sordid and salacious topic about which he lies. Don’t think Ford is going to shuffle off anywhere without a fight.

  • tomwest

    Not mentioned: he wants to drop the Scarborough subway extenension nad go back the LRT conversion and extension.

    • OgtheDim

      Oh it will come up.

      • tomwest

        Yes, I’m sure it will, given I brought it up. My point was that it was not mentioned in this article.

        • MER1978

          He was launching his campaign not releasing a full platform… what’s your point?

          • tomwest

            To quote myself in the comment to which you replied: “My point was that it was not mentioned in this article”.

          • TorontoistEditors

            We shall have all manner of issue profiles over the course of the campaign! Just didn’t make it in here cause he didn’t talk about it at all at the event – was focusing on the ethics stuff.

    • Dan

      Great news. It would be as underutilized as the Sheppard Stubway. An insane waste of money. LRT just makes sense.

    • Dave

      That’s great! I hope other candidates will have the guts to stand up and promise the same.

  • OpportKnocks

    Interesting that Soknacki used to have some policy papers (in favour of LRT over subway and taking on the bloated police budget) on his web site http://www.soknacki.com which now redirects to http://www.soknacki2014.com. So his “reasoned opinions” have now been replaced with election campalgn “fluff”. Too bad.

    • OgtheDim

      It says right on the front page of his site that he is against the Scarborough subway expansion.

      Under David vs. Gridlock.

      • OpportKnocks

        The previous web site had actual “position papers” that appeared to be written by Soknacki and were not written in “campaign speak” by a professional marketer.

        • dsmithhfx

          *gasp*

        • OgtheDim

          Although you and I might vote based on position papers, most people vote based on a mixture of pithy slogans and subtle bribes to either altruism or the wallet.

          • OpportKnocks

            Yeah, some of us remember the days before politicians were packaged and marketed like mutual funds or breakfast cereal.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            The 1800s?

          • dsmithhfx

            Can I be undead like you?

          • OpportKnocks

            You have to score a date with vampchick21 for that.

          • dsmithhfx

            Nah, I think it’s Ford Nation living in the past. We’ll overlook Rob’s professional packager Nick Kouvalis for the previous election. Brother Doug is strictly amateur — the Ford team can’t attract professionals anymore, it seems. Is it a virtue? I think not. YMMV.

          • vampchick21

            Seriously dude? Try pissing off.

          • OpportKnocks

            Relax, I was just playing off the vampire / undead theme

        • Brian

          OpportKnocks, please, give the world a chance! We transferred pages of David’s material over to a new site yesterday – just minutes after we were legally *allowed* to do so. His new site is different because it has to do ten things when his old site only had to do two or three, for a campaign that’s supposed to last almost 300 days from today and is still just over a *day* old for us. We’ve moved the column URLs to the new .com explicitly to make the most requested material David wrote available, and we’re not done yet. …Signed: the guy in the photo standing behind David, on behalf of Soknacki 2014. :)

    • dsmithhfx

      As Og points out, it’s right there on his campaign home page, so I think you need to withdraw the insinuation.

  • Dave

    Vote for David Soknacki. He has never smoked crack.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      I don’t know… his name rhymes with “smoke cracky”. I don’t want to risk it.

  • Dave

    The problem with having Ford in the running is that, for better or worse, he’s going to steer the conversation. He’ll unleash a constant stream of slime – bragging about his record with his oft-repeated falsehoods while denigrating everyone else as “elites” or “tax-and-spend lefties” – that will put everyone on the defensive from day one. He’s also incredibly persistent with his lies, refusing to back down no matter how many times he’s been called out. They may try to sidestep him and have a proper conversation, but no one’s going to do so as long as he’s there. And that’s without even considering the whole “crack scandal/wild antics” stuff.