Pitfield denies asking rival to drop out

By DON PEAT, Toronto Sun

http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontovotes2010/2010/10/14/15694261.html#/news/torontovotes2010/2010/10/14/pf-15694261.html

Don’t forget the comments:

http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontovotes2010/2010/10/14/15694261.html#/news/torontovotes2010/2010/10/14/pf-15694266.html

Last Updated: October 14, 2010 9:20pm

City council candidate Jane Pitfield was accused of impeding democracy by a rival Thursday.

Fellow Ward 29 candidate Jennifer Wood said one of Pitfield’s supporters sent an e-mail asking her to “do the right thing” and drop out of the race.

Pitfield — a former councillor for Ward 26 who gave up her seat to make a failed mayoral bid against David Miller in 2006 — denied she had anything to do with the e-mail and said she’s dedicated to democracy.

Wood said she was quite surprised to receive the e-mail Thursday.

“I consider myself a clear frontrunner,” Wood said. “I think that it is inappropriate for Jane to suggest that that would be doing the right thing for the community. I think that she should clearly let the voters of Ward 29 decide who is the best person to represent the community.”

In the e-mail, Rita Smith asks Wood to “give serious consideration to doing the same thing” as mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi and drop out of the race to replace Case Ootes.

“Staying in just gives Mary Fragedakis that much more chance of winning by 100 votes,” Smith wrote. “I hope you will take this opportunity to positively build your profile and reputation in our community. There will be lots of other elections in the years ahead.”

Pitfield said her campaign did not send the e-mail but it was a member of her campaign acting as a private citizen.

“I had nothing to do with it, she has just done it as a private citizen…this is a communication between Rita Smith and Jennifer Wood,” Pitfield said. “(Wood) can say whatever she likes, personally, I’m delighted there are five candidates, six of us all together, and I think it has been a great race.”

Pitfield said she wishes Wood and her other rivals “the best of luck” in the race.

“I personally feel that everyone has a right to run, as I proved myself, despite the odds, I ran for mayor for 11 months and never considered dropping out,” she said.

Wood dismissed Pitfield’s explanation.

“For Jane to suggest that one of her closest advisors was acting on her own, I find that rather hard to believe,” Wood said. “It’s an example of Jane feeling she’s entitled to this position and not wanting the voters to decide.”

But Smith said it would be “beyond ludicrous” to think Pitfield had anything to do with the e-mail.

“(Pitfield) had nothing to do with this e-mail,” she stressed.

Smith said she met with Wood earlier this year as a volunteer for Equal Voice — a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women in Canada – and sent her the note Thursday morning as a private citizen.

She was shocked to see Wood react to her email in this way.

While she is not a paid employee of the Pitfield campaign, Smith said it is no secret she supports her.

Before Martin Gladstone dropped out of the race against Sandra Bussin to support Mary Margaret McMahon, Smith worked for Gladstone and felt maybe with Rossi’s exit, Wood would drop out of the race and back Pitfield. She pointed to a poll by the Rob Ford campaign published in the Sun Saturday that put Pitfield ahead.

“I kind of thought maybe lightning would strike twice,” she said.

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