Windsor Coun. Rino Bortolin has announced he won’t be running in the upcoming municipal election — not for mayor or as a candidate in his downtown ward.
Bortolin said that he wanted to spend more time with family after an especially demanding two years, though the decision was not an easy one to make.
“I have loved being a city councillor and found it some of the most rewarding work I have done in my life,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
His declaration eliminates one of many question marks surrounding the Oct. 24 vote. Most councillors and the mayor have not yet said whether they are running again.
Bortolin represents Ward 3, and was first elected in 2014. He has served on many city committees, the Police Services Board and the Board of Health. In 2018, he ran provincially as a Liberal candidate in Windsor West.
Bortolin acknowledged that he was mulling a run for mayor over the last four or five months, but ultimately made a decision against it.
The councillor, who disagreed with Mayor Drew Dilkens on key issues such as the upcoming supervised consumption site, vowed to continue his work as an advocate in the community.
Bortolin said he might be “louder and more direct than ever.”
“I’m excited to see how I can use my voice outside of council chambers,” he said.
Departure leaves open seat on council
In a statement, Dilkens said he’s sure Bortolin will continue to contribute to building the city beyond his term on council.
“I acknowledge the passion and spirit that he brought to his role as councillor for Ward 3,” Dilkens said in a statement. “I know first hand the incredible personal toll that serving in elected office requires, especially during these past few years.”
Doug Sartori, a panellist with the Rose City Politics podcast, has volunteered on Bortolin’s election campaigns and served on boards with him. He called Bortolin “irreplaceable.”
“He has been a unique advocate for his ward and a powerful voice, I think, in the community, advocating not only for his ward but for important issues across the city,” he said.
At the same time, Sartori said, that there’s a large pool of talented people who could step up to fill the role.
Currently, there are no candidates registered to run in Ward 3, but Sartori anticipates a surge in interest.
“Any time you see an open seat on council, you see candidates flood in, and it’s an interesting phenomenon because the more candidates you have, the smaller the share of the vote that you need to win.”
At the same time, however, candidates will need to work harder to attract support in a crowded field, he said.
Few incumbents confirmed to run
The municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 24 and candidates have until Aug. 19 to declare.
The only incumbent councillor currently registered to run, according to the city’s website, is Ward 7 Coun. Jeewen Gill.
Dilkens has said he has yet to make a decision on whether he’ll seek another term.
Ward 8 Coun. Gary Kaschak confirmed to CBC News that he is seeking re-election and is in the process of registering.
Coun. Kieran McKenzie, who represents Ward 9, said he would be making an announcement in the future regarding his plans.
Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante said he is leaning toward running again and will make a final decision soon.
CBC News contacted other council members about whether they intend to run again but has not heard back by time of publication.