The Toronto municipal election
was the first seriously contested mayoralty
race in Toronto
, since David Crombie
took office in 1972. Crombie left municipal politics earlier in 1978 to seek and win a seat
in the Canadian House of Commons
as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament
The contest to succeed Crombie (or more correctly, interim Mayor Fred Beavis) was a wide-open affair that saw three aldermen, David Smith, Tony O'Donohue and John Sewell contest the position.
Though O'Donohue and Smith were both aligned with the Liberals with links to developers, O'Donohue was seen as more right-wing and won the endorsement of the conservative Toronto Sun newspaper while Smith was seen as more of a centrist.
Sewell had first been elected to Toronto city council in 1969 and had a reputation as a community activist and even a radical. His backers consisted of New Democratic Party supporters (although Sewell himself has never been a member of the party), left-wing Liberals and Red Tories, many of whom had supported Crombie who, despite his Tory allegiance, had a reputation as a reform mayor on the left-wing of the municipal political spectrum.
The split on the right between O'Donohue and Smith allowed Sewell to win with less than 50% of the vote.
- Jean Lance was for many years an activist in Toronto's Lawrence Heights community. She led the Lawrence Heights Residents Association and the Lawrence Heights Neighborhoods Aids Association, and lobbied for various community services in the area. During the late 1960s, she brought day care to the area for single parents. She was also president of the Federation of Ontario Tenants Association. She campaigned in the 1976 and 1978 municipal elections.
- Alan Mostyn was born in Midland, Ontario in 1947. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto (1970) and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Queen's University (1973), and was called to the Ontario bar in 1975. He is a lawyer with the firm Mostyn & Mostyn, and is active in Toronto's Jewish community. His son Michael Mostyn has campaigned federally for the Conservative Party of Canada, and his wife Sheila Mostyn has sought municipal office in Toronto.
Results taken from the Toronto Star, 14 November 1978.
The final results confirmed Moscoe's victory.