The mayoral election may be eight months away, but we already have a lot on our plates when it comes to candidates. From the current mayor – in name only – to former TTC Chair Karen Stintz, and now John Tory, piles of names are entering what will most likely be a grueling cage match that is bound to intensify as the months pass by.

Though the plan for most of these candidates is to find the holes in their opponents’ platforms, voters must find out what these platforms and plans for the future actually entail. How exactly does Tory plan to create a “more livable, more affordable, and more functional” Toronto? What is Rob Ford planning on doing to earn back voters’ trust? (Many feel it’s beyond the mayor’s ability to do at this point as each passing week a new Ford blunder or breakdown fills our news feeds.)

Early on during the mayoral race we hear a lot of promises made by candidates, who presumably want to better our city, but up until the polling stations close in October, digging for details is imperative. Words can sound nice, but without a cohesive plan of action, they quickly lose meaning. Understandably, not everyone has his or her ears to the ground listening closely to every piece of developing news coming out of the mayoral race. Everyone however, can do minimal research, and listen closely to what candidates say. Numbers, facts, and plans of action are to be acknowledged. “More this and more that,” and “stopping the gravy train,” are phrases that alone have no real effect on unless these phrases are backed up by a comprehensive strategy to attain specific goals.

Unfortunately, aside from former Scarborough councilor David Soknacki’s plan to scrap the current Scarborough subway plan and go with the more affordable LRT system – and even this raises the question on how exactly he’ll cancel a plan that has garnered the support of City Council and the federal government – no one else has come forth with much when it comes to actual procedures.

Alongside policies and plans of action, another aspect of this race that deserves attention is the respective parties each candidate represents. Between Ford, Stintz, Tory and Soknacki, variety is not exactly a fair description of the options we have at this point in time. The right side of the political spectrum is heavily represented but the ideal range of ideas and priorities that accurately represent the breadth of Toronto’s diversity won’t be fully realized until the other half enters the fray. NDP representative Olivia Chow is speculated to consider joining the race, and has hinted at a possible candidacy in March. This however does raise another question. Is someone who is up to this point reluctant to enter her name for mayor deserving of our votes down the road? One would think that if someone wanted to make an impact and better the city of Toronto, they would waste no time in entering the political marathon.

Many people may already have their pick for mayor, others perhaps aren’t even aware of the upcoming election. Whatever the situation may be, do not let votes come down to whatever catchphrases sound best. Look where that got us last time