TORONTO's race for mayor has started in earnest as George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi took the first steps toward making a run at the city's top job.
Rossi, who until December was the federal Liberal party's national director in Ottawa, filed his nomination papers for the mayoralty Monday.
Smitherman, who resigned from cabinet in November, stepped down as MPP for Toronto Centre in a Jan. 1 letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Speaker Steve Peters.
Smitherman's currently out of the country on vacation, but will register within the next few weeks as a candidate for the Oct. 25 election, said his spokeswoman Erika Mozes.
Rocco Rossi became the first official candidate for mayor of Toronto when he filed his nomination papers on Jan. 4. (Heart & Stroke Foundation)
"I can tell you that it will be shortly," she said Monday. "I'm not quite sure what date we'll go down [to city hall.]"
Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray is expected to win the Liberal nomination to replace Smitherman when the Toronto Centre members pick their candidate this Wednesday.
Smitherman had most recently held the energy and infrastructure portfolio and also served as health minister for several years after the Ontario Liberals were first elected in 2003.
Rossi, who once headed the Heart and Stroke Foundation, admits it will be an uphill struggle. He also figures the cost could top $2 million.
"One of the reasons that I'm here registering as early as possible is that you can't raise or spend money until you file," Rossi said after filing his papers on Monday morning.
"So with that out of the way I'm going to set up a bank account and start raising money this afternoon."
When he announced his decision to run for mayor in December, Rossi said he would take a pay cut of 10 per cent and sell off Toronto Hydro to help fight the city's deficit.
Five or six high-profile candidates are expected to try to replace two-term mayor David Miller.
Besides Smitherman and Rossi, some of the names being bandied about include former provincial Conservative leader John Tory, councillors Adam Giambrone and Shelley Carroll.
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, meanwhile, said he'll file later this week.
Candidates have until Sept. 25 to file all the paperwork, though the serious contenders are expected to file much earlier, giving them time raise funds — and their public profile — in time for the Oct. 25 vote.