Originally published on December 14, 2010.
A year ago I decided to run for Mayor of Toronto because I wanted to give back to a city that has given me so much over the years.
I set out hoping that I might influence the discussion and get people talking about subway expansion and the need for a restructured, fiscally responsible, government. But I didn’t expect how much the experience of the campaign would change me.
In some ways it was very much like falling in love. During the spring, my first dates were at churches and community centres, and through the heated debates and passion-filled evenings my affection grew, and over the summer the love blossomed. I spent days and nights canvassing the city, attending events, and developing a huge respect for the creativity and humility of our people. I walked through sun-scorched streets, listened to the children laughing and playing in our tree-filled parks, and became devoted during quiet summer evenings downtown.
I think my husband caught on, but he chose to accept my affair with the city – indeed he believed I’d be a better woman for it.
He put up with the days and months I wasn’t there, filling the void by donating extra time to the charity he works for. He put up with my late nights and my restlessness after the evening debates and he learned to sleep through the typing I did on my laptop late into the night.
Since the election, we have spent many evenings drinking wine and talking all night long about everything and nothing at all. We’ve both grown and changed over the year. There is a sense of newness, like the first time – but with none of the shyness.
I learned so much over 10 months: how to debate; how to speak easily with crowds; and the importance of humility. I developed a way to ignore those who threw insults. I faced a number of editorial boards and overlooked the bias of a few individuals who should not be calling themselves journalists.
But most of all, I learned how truly exceptional my small team was: Robert Perry, Kinga Surma, John AD Tory, and his brother George Tory, who joined us halfway through the campaign. We grew together, we learned together, and we created some terrific memories together.
My love affair with the city came to an abrupt end on October 25, and although sad, and a little heartbroken, I know the relationship isn’t completely over, and I’ll always remain a good friend.
Sarah Thomson is a former Toronto mayoral candidate and the publisher of Women’s Post.