David Miller will not seek re-election as mayor of Toronto. He made the announcement at a media conference Friday morning.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” Miller joked as he began comments that were not followed by the opportunity for questions.
Publicly, Miller has always said he wanted to run for re-election in 2010, but today he said that he had privately decided years ago not to run for a third term.
“After my re-election in 2006, I came to a difficult realization,” he said. “Both of my children were born after I was first elected [as a Metro Toronto councillor] in 1994… After I was elected as mayor the pressures on me as a father and a husband became immense.”
Miller said he was recently tempted to reconsider his decision not to run, partially by “the prospect of an intense competitive election in 2010,” but that the need to make a final decision “came to a head” during a meeting with his campaign team last week.
In explaining his choice, Miller said, “I have accomplished what I set out to do, and so if I ran again it would be about me, and my electoral success, and not about the Toronto I love.”
The mayor pointed to Transit City, crime reduction, Invest Toronto, and cleaning up government as some of his key accomplishments.
“We are now the first municipal government in Canada to have a lobbyist registrar, the first to have an integrity commissioner, and only the second to have an ombudsman.”
“Most importantly,” Miller said, “we have changed the face of Toronto’s agencies, boards and commissions to start to represent Toronto’s diversity.”
Toronto has a “growing global reputation as a city that’s safe, strong, clean and green,” he said.
As if to preempt questions about the campaign to replace him, Miller said “I’ll let others campaign, but for me there’s governing to do.”
“The next election will be hard fought, but if those with progressive values come together behind a new champion, work hard and fight hard, you can elect that champion.”
“There will be candidates who say you can have a great city for free…but Torontonians have seen through those falsehoods before and they will see through them again.”
As advice to those who would be mayor, Miller said, “have faith in the people of Toronto. They will never let you down. They have never let me down.”
Near the end of his prepared statement, Miller became emotional saying that being mayor of Toronto was, “the greatest privilege in Canada and the greatest honour of my life.” He then asked for the “courtesy” of not responding to questions, saying “this is a day for me and my family. I believe I’ve said what needs to be said.”
Deputy premier George Smitherman and former Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory have both mused publicly about running for Toronto’s top job, while Councillor Karen Stintz has setup a mayoral campaign exploratory committee.
Candidates for mayor cannot begin accepting campaign donations until January 1st, 2010, effectively limiting their ability to campaign before that date.