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Carroll ready to go head-to-head against Ford

Toronto City Councillor Shelley Carroll is ready to run for mayor against Rob Ford if a by-election is called and is urging other potential candidates to step aside.

Ms. Carroll has long said she is considering an election bid, but Friday she went one step further, saying she wants to be the candidate to go head-to-head at the ballot box with Mr. Ford in an anybody-but-Rob effort.

She cited an angry exchange at City Hall this week – in which the mayor's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, in a comment apparently directed at two other councillors, said he would "whup both your asses" – as the final straw that prompted her to go public with her plans.

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"You know what? The time of being coy and being tasteful about this is done," said Ms. Carroll, a former budget chief under David Miller. Asked if she should be the one candidate to oppose Mr. Ford, Ms. Carroll said: "Yes, yes, I am. I think that I could run this city a damn sight better than the current mayor and abide by the law while doing it."

Her comments come at the end of a tumultuous week that began with a guilty ruling in a conflict-of-interest against the mayor. Mr. Ford will be turfed from office on Dec. 10 unless his lawyers can delay the penalty while they appeal the verdict. If that appeal fails, council can choose to appoint the mayor's replacement or call a by-election. On Friday, the judge clarified his ruling to say that Mr. Ford could run in a by-election

Ms. Carroll, a Liberal, told reporters "a lot of very serious discussions" will take place over the weekend about how the mayor's opponents can work together.

But at least one critic of the mayor who is considering a bid to take his place said he is not concerned about vote-splitting.

"You could probably run 10 candidates and he would still end up back in the pack," Councillor Adam Vaughan said. "Torontonians are going to get a set of choices and I'm not concerned about whether a set of choices is going to accidentally elect Rob Ford. I don't think it will."

Councillor Joe Mihevc, also a frequent critic of the mayor, was reluctant to endorse Ms. Carroll's single-candidate strategy. "I think it has to be much more dynamic," he said about the possible race for mayor. "It is not just about Rob the person, it's about politics, it's a chance for us…to talk about what kind of city we want."

Josh Colle, generally regarded as a consensus builder on council, said efforts to unite behind one candidate seem contrived. "You know what? It's democracy. Anyone can run and anyone should," he said.

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The first-term councillor said his bigger concern is that any candidate for mayor – including Mr. Ford – needs to behave better. "If people what to start putting their names forward, I don't care who it is, the current councillors or the mayor, I think the residents are sick of what they have seen," he said.

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Toronto City Hall bureau chief

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Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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