Could These People Run for Mayor of Brampton in 2018?


While most people are still reeling from the colourful provincial election (you know, the one that saw the Liberals face a resounding defeat at the hands of polarizing candidate Doug Ford--the man who took the reigns of the party after former leader Patrick Brown was ousted amid controversial sexual misconduct allegations mere months before the election), they shouldn’t forget that municipal elections are coming. 

Residents in Ontario’s municipalities--including Brampton, of course-will be casting their ballots for their city’s next mayor on Oct. 22. 

In neighbouring Mississauga, the election for mayor is essentially a referendum on the performance of Mayor Bonnie Crombie, as she is only facing token opposition at this point. But in Brampton, Mayor Linda Jeffrey has faced challenges on implementing the policy agenda that she campaigned on four years ago. 

Despite the title of mayor, one must realize that in municipal government in Ontario, the mayor has only one vote on council: he or she needs a majority of councillors onside if they want to get anything done, and Jeffrey has certainly not managed to do that.

With a core group of at least six councillors that are seen aligned in a different direction, issues such as the Hurontario LRT, a new university and more transparency and accountability at city hall have been stinted by those looking to move in another direction. 

So far, Jeffrey is officially facing two newcomers on political stage for the mayor's chair: Omar Mansoury, and lawyer Wesley Jackson. While he is not a household name, Jackson has been quite vocal and detailed about what he wants to do as mayor, writing a blog post about developing every corner of Brampton, not just the downtown, although he supports building the Riverwalk project.  

Even though Jeffrey seems to have fallen short in fulfilling the promises she made four years ago while campaigning for the city's top job, there doesn't seem to be many challengers stepping up to face the incumbent mayor as she runs for a second term. 

That said, an election is coming and there is still time until the deadline to register as a candidate (July 27) to become Brampton's next mayor. But there are a few defeated MPPs and politicians from other levels of government around, so who knows. 

Here are our picks for who might vye for Brampton’s top spot this fall. If they're not contemplating a run this year, then perhaps they are looking down the road towards 2022. 

*This article is purely speculative, none of these potential candidates have registered to run at this time

Navdeep Bains 

While he technically lives in Mississauga, Bains did represent parts of Brampton once when he served as the Liberal MP for Mississauga-Brampton South from 2004 to 2011. However, the current federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development was just acclaimed to stand for re-election in the 2019 federal election a few weeks ago. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in town to see the first Ontario candidate in his party confirmed to run for him again. 

In 2014, Bains' name was thrown into a survey conducted by Forum Research asking residents who they would vote for as mayor at that time. He actually polled quite well against then-scandal plagued mayor Susan Fennell in a one-on-one matchup, and still maintained a decent level of support in a three way race with her and another Brampton councillor. 

It's also important to note that Bains was out of politics, as he had lost his federal seat in the 2011 election, so he was a private citizen at the time of that poll. But it's highly unlikely that the MP for Mississauga-Malton would take the plunge into municipal politics. He's one of Trudeau's more trusted cabinet members, and the portfolio he's overseeing is an important economic file that, amongst other duties, gives him the opportunity to travel across Canada to spur and talk up the emerging innovation economy. 

Why would you give up such a prestigious post for the grind of Brampton local politics?

Likelihood of running in 2018: Low

John Sprovieri 

Until Jeffrey (a provincial MPP) came along in 2014 and defeated Fennell, the conventional wisdom that a sitting councillor at some point would challenge for the top job in the city and prevail. Fennell herself was a former councillor when she defeated the sitting mayor in 2000. So, are there current councillors around Jeffrey that would be interested in seeking the top job? 

Three Brampton councillors announced this year they were retiring at the end of 2018, but John Sprovieri can be considered in a state of flux at the moment.

Sprovieri announced he was stepping down from his position as Wards 9 and 10 Regional Councillor, to make way for his colleague Gurpreet Dhillon who is now running for that position. But Sprovieri indicated he may run for Dhillion's now vacant city council seat unless the issues surrounding the Inzola Lawsuit and terminating water fluoridation in Peel Region were addressed.

So why can't he do that as mayor? Sprovieri was part of that six-councillor bloc on Brampton city council that frequently opposed Mayor Jeffrey's initiatives, and the two issues he cited as being important to him could be pushed further if he happened to be mayor. As a 30 year veteran of city council, Sprovieri can say he can push things along because he's been there longer, and knows "where the bodies are buried". 

But the knock against that is people may not want to support some career politician looking to extend their life in politics. There is also the little verbal snafu with a constituent that led to accusations of racism, in which Sprovieri later apologized for. But hey, we live in the age of Trump, where people can say the most outrageous and crazy things and still win public office. 

Likelihood of running in 2018: Very, very high

Michael Palleschi 

The son of the late Brampton councillor Paul Palleschi, Michael Palleschi was elected in 2014 for regional council in Wards 2 & 6, succeeding his father who retired after 26 years on council. Prior to his entry into municipal politics, Palleschi was a manager at Deloitte. 

Earlier rumours swirled that he would challenge Jeffrey in this year's election, but within a few weeks of registrations being taken on May 1, Palleschi signed up to run for reelection in Wards 2 & 6, ending that speculation…for now. 

There is still time to change one's candidacy (under the new election rules the 25 signatures you received to endorse your candidacy can be transferred over if you're running for some other office) and Palleschi was also, along with Sprovieri, one of the bloc of Brampton councillors who voted against extending the LRT into downtown, amongst other initiatives that Jeffrey was championing. 

If the so-called "anti-Jeffrey forces" needed a candidate that is not controversial, familiar with the 'movers and shakers' of Brampton and is amicable enough, then Palleschi could be that person, if someone like a "long in the tooth" creature of council like Sprovieri does not have that appeal across the city as a viable candidate.

Likelihood of running: Moderate in 2018, High in 2022

Neil Davis 

That name may sound familiar to those Bramptonians of a more by-gone era; Davis is the son of former Ontario premier, "Brampton Bill" Davis, who served from 1971 to 1985 and as MPP for Brampton for many years dating back to the late 1950s. The elder Davis is still quite active in the community, having been on the panel to decide the location of a new university, but he was also an instrumental figure in halting LRT construction into downtown Brampton. 

Like his father, Neil Davis is a Brampton lawyer and, while not in politics, has an extensive resume of experience with charitable organizations such as serving as board member of the Brampton YMCA, Grace Place Community Resource Centre, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, the Brampton Downtown Development Corporation. He's also serving on some business boards as well. 

While he has reportedly been asked numerous times to run, Davis has always turned down the offer to run for mayor. Based on his professional background and community involvement, plus that familiar surname, it's not a bad place to start off having the son of a former premier running for mayor. 

But then again, there is currently three members of council whose fathers were either councillors or mayor before (Grant Gibson, Doug Whillans, and Palleschi). Would Bramptonians go for more of the proverbial squeaky wheel getting all that grease? 

Likelihood of running in 2018: Low 

Harinder Malhi 

For those of you wondering if there are actually any credible candidates from Brampton's fast growing South Asian community, there are a few. And this former MPP and cabinet minister in the previous Ontario Liberal government is one of them. 

Malhi, whose father Gurbax Malhi was a former federal MP from 1993 to 2011, was first elected in 2014 after Jeffrey stepped down from her provincial seat to run for mayor. She had a previous background in sales in telecommunications and was real estate agent as well, and prior to her provincial run was a Peel school board trustee. 

While she may have lost her reelection bid in the June provincial election in the riding of Brampton North, Malhi is still young enough on the Brampton scene to mount a political comeback. The likely route would be to run for a city council seat, but a potential mayoral bid would not be that far off if there is interest for a young, South Asian woman with political experience looking to shatter that proverbial glass ceiling down the road in four years.

Likelihood of running: Low in 2018, Moderate in 2022

Gurpreet Dhillon 

Dhillon was first elected to city council in Wards 9 and 10 in 2014, defeating an incumbent. He is currently running for regional council, and through this past term often acting as a surrogate for Mayor Jeffrey, voting on her side on many occasions. 

The councillor has also been quite vocal on a number of issues, ranging from the LRT, the university, Uber operating in Brampton, the bailout of the Brampton Beast hockey team, and  recently over the spike in crime in the city (he's hosting a community meeting on July 12 at 7 pm in Gore Meadows Community Centre). 

It's pretty clear Dhillon has higher political aspirations, judging from a regional council candidacy after only one term as a city councillor. He's not running as mayor while Jeffrey is still in office, even though he recently publicly sparred with the mayor over a community safety plan that was more regionally applied than Brampton specific, but could do so in 2022. 

The councillor also is in a unique position of attracting support from across the political spectrum. Federal Liberal MPs Ruby Sahota and Raj Grewal, Tory MPP Prabmeet Sakaria, and federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh all endorsed Dhillon's regional council candidacy earlier this year. He attended a community safety roundtable with federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer recently as well, so he can burnish those bi-partisan credentials for a future mayoral run. 

Likelihood of running: Low in 2018, High in 2022

Giorgio Mammoliti

Earlier this year, Giorgio Mammoliti aka. Mammo was seeking a return to Queen's Park under the Doug Ford-led PC Party....but he wasn’t planning to run in North York, which he currently represents on Toronto city council. In fact, the ever controversial Mammo was eyeing an MPP position in Brampton.

Councillor Mammoliti, who has represented Ward 7 (York West) for the past 18 years, announced that he was seeking the PC nomination in the riding of Brampton Centre. Not longer after, Mammo withdrew his name from the hat.

Why was a Toronto Councillor eyeing Brampton?

Well, Mammoliti said that a number of his constituents had moved from North York to Brampton recently, and he wanted to join them. Mammoliti also said that several people from his ward have moved to Brampton to buy homes, and he, too, bought a house here over 30 years ago back in 1983.

Mammoliti was first elected to public office as an NDP MPP in 1990, serving his first term in Bob Rae's NDP government before he was defeated in 1995. He then went onto Toronto municipal politics serving as councillor for York West, and briefly ran for mayor in 2010 before dropping out. During the tumultuous Rob Ford mayoralty, Mammoliti was an staunch ally of the Ford brothers, despite having tussled with Rob Ford in the past, as they attempted to cut costs and "stop the gravy train" when it came to spending and taxes.

Is he is successful, it wouldn't be the first time that a politician from Toronto parachuted into Peel Region to seek political office and won. From 1997 to 2004, Brampton Centre was represented by Liberal MP Sarkis Assadourian, who represented Don Valley North before that riding got erased by redistribution of federal riding boundaries.

He did withdraw from Brampton, saying his constituents wanted him to stay in York West, so it’s unlikely that he would come back to run for mayor. But can you imagine?

Likelihood of running: Very low 

Bonus names: 

There are some other minor names that could be considered future mayoral candidates in Brampton judging from individual circumstances.

Regional Councillor Martin Medeiros from Wards 3 and 4 is running for re-election, and he might be thinking of the mayor's spot in 2022. But if rumours are true, he will have to survive re-election this year against former regional councillor John Sanderson, who has been making noise about a comeback. Grewal may be out of a job by 2019 if he ends up facing Singh in his Brampton East riding, and Sahota (a bit of a rising star in Justin Trudeau's Liberal caucus) might find herself being courted to run for mayor. 

Of course, the role of mayor is also a reflection of the city, and perhaps there is someone outside the political realm popular within the Brampton community that people may rally around…say someone like JusReign (the YouTuber), Daniel Lewis (of T by Daniel) or even an enigmatic crime fighter like Brampton Batman. Although in Batman’s case, he would have to divulge his identity to the public. 

One thing I am willing to bet is by 2022, Linda Jeffrey will not be running for a third term as mayor, and once again Brampton will be seeking change and a new leader to guide this growing city. From the looks of things, there's a decent amount of options to choose from.

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