Joe Cressy says he won't run in next year's Toronto election

Downtown city councillor Joe Cressy says he does not plan to run in the 2022 municipal election and his future endeavours will not involve elected office.

Cressy, who represents the ward of Spadina-Fort York, confirmed the news in a tweet on Sunday.

“I love Toronto. I believe that municipal government can be a powerful force for good. For equity and inclusion. For everyone," he wrote.

"There are many ways to contribute to our community though. For me, the future (whatever it may hold) is outside elected office.”

Cressy, who was first elected to Toronto city council in 2014, currently serves as the chair of the Toronto Board of Health.

Speaking to CP24 on Sunday, Cressy said he decided to leave politics so he could spend more time with his two-year-old son Jude.

“The last two years, in fact 645 straight days, as the chair of the board of health it has taken an emotional toll,” he told CP24.

“I have not seen him (my son) enough in last two years. In fact, there were months where we even lived apart during this pandemic…I want to be a present and active father and I don’t want to miss any more of these years. I’ve missed too many.”

Cressy noted that while there was a time when he considered a run for the mayor’s chair, that role is not conducive to life with a young family.

He added that he is proud of the work he has done while in office.

“I’ve been proud as chair of the board of health and as a city councillor coming up on eight years to have worked on a lot of files and I hope created lasting change that has improved the lives of Torontonians; Our overdose action plan and opening supervised consumption sites has been a real life-saver for people, reimagining our streets from the King Street pilot to bike lanes on Bloor,” he said.

“I think more than anything…I like to think my legacy will be based on how I governed myself which was in an attempt to be both principled and effective, to always fight for what I believe in but to find ways to build coalitions, to work with everybody.”

Cressy said while he and Mayor John Tory did not always see eye-to-eye, over the past two years, he felt that the mayor led a “team Toronto coalition government.”

“While we don’t agree on every issue… it has been a privilege to work alongside him,” Cressy said.

He added that he hopes the next person to represent the ward will share his passion for working collaboratively with other politicians.

“Whoever comes next, whoever fills my seat, and I’ve got to tell you I hope it is a progressive woman who does ultimately fill my seat, I hope that they carry on what I hope is that legacy of doing politics differently,” Cressy said.

Mayor John Tory said in a statement that Cressy “has been a strong partner” as Board of Health chair throughout the pandemic.

“Councillor Cressy and I have disagreed on a number of issues over time as you would expect in a big government, but I am always willing to work with any councillors ready and willing to work with me. And I know that over the last 19 months, Councillor Cressy has been as deeply committed as I am to helping our city, our residents and our businesses get through these unprecedented times,” Tory said.

“I look forward to continuing to work with him over the coming months on the city’s response to the pandemic, including our ongoing successful vaccination effort.“

In a tweet, Ward 11 Coun. Mike Layton said Cressy “made possible many things some thought to be impossible.”

“Joe has been a force at city hall- uniting council in efforts to protect our city’s most vulnerable. Homeless crisis, opioid crisis, road safety crisis- Joe has been out front,” he wrote. 

Coun. Gord Perks, who represents Parkdale-High Park, said Sunday that he is “very sad” Cressy won’t be running for mayor.

“Joe has been an inspiration to work with. We were lucky to have him,” Perks said in a tweet. “I wish him all success and happiness in his next journey.”