Council appoints former city staffer to vacant seat 

11:02 a.m. David Soknacki speaking in council chambers Wednesday for the councillor appointment for Ward 44.

June 29, 2017

City council voted for long-time bureaucrat Jim Hart to take over the vacant Ward 44 seat on Wednesday over former councillor and 2014 mayoral hopeful David Soknacki.

Hart was appointed with the strong support of two thirds of city council members — 27 out of 40 (four were not present).

Speaking about the win after the appointment, Hart told to reporters: “I’ve been in this building for 31 years, so I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in that horseshoe down there and it’s really exciting to be back.”

Hart was pleased with the support he received from so many councillors. “I would think that nobody on council would have any idea what my political leanings are, because I always look at every issue on it’s own merit … I don’t lean to the left, to the right or to the middle, to me my view is you look at every single issue. We’re here to deliver great public services for the citizens of Toronto and that’s my intention, to keep that mandate and carry on Ron [Moeser’s] legacy in the ward.”

David Soknacki, the other frontrunner for the role, is known for his principled approach and strong policy ideas. Soknacki ran for mayor in the 2014 election (until he withdrew) and was a city councillor for Scarborough from 1994 to 1997 and 1999 to 2006. 

Soknacki received nine votes, including Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. “He was really impressive with his platform and during the 2014 election, I actually regret that we didn’t get to flesh out some of his ideas — which were costed, which were tested, and he continues to maintain that love for the city and I know that he actually thinks about the city beyond Ward 44 … He really was a big city thinker. I think that kind of visionary leadership would have been very beneficial for Scarborough,” she said.

The next municipal election will be sometime between September and October 2017.

According to Hart, residents who visited the constituency office in the last year said the appointment process made perfect sense. “I didn’t hear one person come in the office to say they would vote for a byelection, that they would want that. Not one.”

Hart was chosen over 35 other candidates, including Soknacki, who made speeches at city council on Wednesday.