Lee takes second try at mayoralty

Lee takes second try at mayoralty

An admitted long-shot, Dewitt Lee is repeating his 2010 bid for mayor of Toronto.
By Jasminee Sahoye

He made his debut in the political arena in 2010 when he decided to take on the challenge of becoming mayor of Toronto, running against incumbent Rob Ford and the likes of George Smitherman, a former Ontario deputy premier, Rocco Rossi, a Dewitt Leeformer Liberal Party of Canada executive, and former city councillor Joe Pantalone.

Now, Dewitt Lee III, 36, is in the race again to become Toronto’s mayor. A long-shot according to the polls, he believes he can make a difference as a person of colour who was born in Toronto and experienced challenges.

Lee tells The Camera he had a few hundred supporters during the last election in which Ford won and he believes that he has what it takes to run the city as a business and save taxpayers a lot of money.

“I owe it to all the 1,699 people that believed in me in 2010. I’m part of a continuation of a very strong legacy of African-Canadians and Caribbean-Canadians who have fought to bring diversity and a voice for the disadvantaged for decades — I’m referring to the great Jean Augustine, Lincoln Alexander,” he says.

Lee has served in different capacities such as a community leader, an entrepreneur, a church leader and a basketball coach. He is currently president of L.E.A.P. Branding Publishing & Marketing Company and founder of the Toronto Community Advisory Board, Canadian Hip-Hop Caucus, Christian Canadian Caucus, Leadership Experience and Development Institute.

Several years ago, Lee says, he accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and was baptized in Toronto as a member of Gospel Light Tabernacle Church of God. This lifestyle change resulted in the launch of a new business, God’s L.A.W. which produces Christian clothes, events and music.

In his 2010 bid for mayor, Lee shared his story of being homeless but having his life turned in a positive way.

He says he will work to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, benefits from the city’s wealth and inclusiveness. He has a keen interested in housing and ensuring that those who live in Toronto Community Housing enjoy better living conditions and a higher standard of living.

“I have lived most of my life in Toronto and experienced the challenges of what many other Toronto residents experience on a daily basis. I want to make a difference in creating more jobs, no increase in tax, better public transit and better housing as well as programs for our kids. I’m a man of God and I want to show Toronto residents that when I become the next mayor I would bring sanity to City Hall.”

Lee also believes that people of colour, especially Black people, need to “rise up” and run for political office in an effort to let their voice be heard and that’s the reason, he says, he is continuing in his campaign, adding he is confident that he will be the next mayor.

More than 60 candidates are running for the mayor of Toronto in the Oct. 27 election and Lee says he will continue his campaign without shying away, despite not being considered a front runner.

A recent poll suggests John Tory is in the lead for mayor with Rob Ford second, followed by Olivia Chow. Other front runners include former TTC chair and city Councillor Karen Stintz and former city councillor David Soknacki.