Former Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca would enter Vaughan's mayoral race as the candidate-to-beat, a new Mainstreet Research poll shows.
Del Duca, who hasn't officially entered the race, has the support of 22 per cent of all voters, compared to seven per cent for Sandra Yeung Racco, his closest challenger. Racco, who's officially entered the race, has served on Vaughan's city council for nearly two decades.
Del Duca's name has been bandied about as a potential candidate since he stepped down from atop the Ontario Liberal Party on election night. He's been keeping a low profile, having only tweeted once since election night to congratulate John Fraser on once again being nominated to be interim Liberal leader.
Robert Gulassarian, a local real estate agent, is in third with six per cent support.
The vast majority of voters are, however, undecided. Of the 506 people polled, 63 per cent say they aren't sure who they're voting for on Oct. 24, 2022.
A recent report in the Ottawa-based newspaper The Hill Times suggested Del Duca was interested in the job. The report also said former federal Liberal cabinet minister Deb Schulte and incumbent deputy mayor of Vaughan Mario Ferri are thinking of running.
Schulte was a Vaughan city councillor from 2010 to 2014, before making the jump to federal politics in 2015. She represented King—Vaughan in the House of Commons from 2015 to 2021 — and served as minister of seniors from 2019 to 2021 — before losing a close race to current Conservative MP Anna Roberts in the 2021 election.
Ferri was on Vaughan's city council from 1997 to 2010, and ran again in 2014. He's currently the deputy mayor, a position he's held since 2017. He unsuccessfully ran for the federal Liberals in the 2011 election.
Neither Schulte nor Ferri were included in the poll, which could help Del Duca's and others' numbers.
Del Duca doesn't have any city council experience but did represent the riding at Queen's Park from 2012 to 2018. He served as minister of transportation from 2014 to January 2018, before a brief stint as minister of economic development.
He ran again in the 2022 provincial election but lost by nearly 20 points to incumbent PC MPP Michael Tibollo.
Currently, just three people have filed nomination papers: Racco, Gulassarian and Parveen Bola, who sits at two per cent in the poll. Hilten Patel, who was listed in the poll but had no support, dropped out on July 25.
Incumbent Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua decided not to run for a fourth term after winning three straight elections with huge margins. He's been in the position since 2010 and represented the area for the federal Liberals from 1990 to 2004, including some time as a junior cabinet minister.
Just over 60 per cent of voters polled said they're either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with Vaughan's current municipal government.
Bevilacqua himself gets even higher ratings, with over three-quarters of respondents saying they strongly or somewhat approve of his 12-year tenure.
Decreasing taxes is the biggest issue on voters' minds, the poll suggests. Over 30 per cent say that's the top issue, compared to 20 per cent of voters saying it's improving services, and 18 per cent saying it's creating more affordable housing.
Prospective candidates have until Aug. 18 to file their papers, along with a $200 deposit. All of Ontario's municipal elections are on Oct. 24.
This Mainstreet Research poll was conducted on July 22–25. A sample of 506 people was interviewed by automated telephone interviews. The poll is accurate to within ±4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Mainstreet Research is part owner of iPolitics and QP Briefing.