Billing himself as an example of how Toronto’s diverse population can succeed — as well as “the most economically and environmentally compact” candidate for the mayor’s office — Coun. Joe Pantalone has formally entered the race to succeed Mayor David Miller.

But while he joked about his height — he’s 5-foot-1 — Pantalone said he’s dead serious about running for mayor and won’t back out halfway through the campaign to run once more as a councillor.

“Absolutely not,” he replied when asked if he’d run again for his old seat, Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina. “If I am not mayor, I will no longer be involved in active politics.”

Pantalone, 57, said his six years as deputy mayor have been an apprenticeship for the top job.

While city hall needs to work better, Pantalone said, “you cannot bring a baseball bat ... and start smashing away.

“This is a beautiful flower that needs to be nurtured in order to continue to flower,” he said.

And it’s not a time for radical change: “The next term of council is a time for us to solidify, in my opinion, and protect our services.”