After a tumor was discovered in his abdomen, colorful Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who caused a torrent of talk and controversy by his cocaine-use video footage, swapped races with his brother Doug. Doug lost to challenger John Tory, and it wasn’t very close judging by the fact that within a half hour of the polls closing the race was called. One might say that Rob retreated from the Mayor’s office to the city council, avoiding the race to escape a sound whopping, but there are problems with the theory. First, Doug’s seat was Rob’s seat for 10 years before he became Mayor. Second, Rob won his council seat by a five to one margin, which was shocking to Susan McGalla and myself. He is at least still popular in his old district. It is obvious, though, that wearing the Ford name does not ensure victory in Toronto. Nevertheless, Rob vowed that a Ford never, ever gives up and that he would begin plotting to put another of his brothers in the Mayor’s office in 2018.
Apparently, the Fords are a little bit of a local dynasty family in Toronto. This is nothing unusual, however. Consider the Daley’s (Richard J. and Richard M.) who ruled Chicago from 1955 to 1976 and again from 1989 to 2011, a total of 43 years. Local dynasties seem easier to build and maintain than national ones, and they are often built on mere personality and regimented follower loyalty more than on substance. It would seem best to introduce term limits on the local level, at least for Mayor. As the local level has a smaller “talent pool,” it may be advisable to allow what talent is there to stick around if the people will keep voting it in, but there is no reason why the head executive of cities can’t be term-limited, nor why the former Mayors can’t return to their former council seats as Mr. Ford has done.