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Who might run for mayor of Toronto in a by-election?

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 4, 2012

toronto mayor voteWith a by-election likely looming for Toronto in the coming months, now is the perfect time for councillors with mayoral ambitions to take a stab at the top job. The only obstacle in their path: convincing enough people to vote their way. For some that means assurances that they are suited to stay as leader of council, for others it means getting recognized as a viable alternative.

Here are some of the contenders who have a chance of running in a by-election and perhaps winning an abridged mayoralty until 2014, assuming Rob Ford is granted a stay but loses a January appeal, which is widely touted as the most likely scenario.


The present incumbent announced on his weekly radio show Sunday he "will be the first one into the race" to try and win his job back via a popular vote. Love him or loathe him, Ford is the man to beat here and you have to like his chances of getting re-elected even with reduced support. Whether or not Ford will make it to the end of said race or fall over trying to throw something is still unknown.


Though not such a well-known name publicly, Carroll is a vociferous anti-Ford voice at City Hall who's had eyes on the mayor's chair for several years. As budget chief under David Miller, the Ward 33 Don Valley East representative was able to draw on her banking background to help shape the city's finances. She implemented the personal vehicle tax in 2007 then voted with Rob Ford to kill it off, saying she had heard from her constituents that they didn't like the idea.

In 2010, when she was also considering running, The Star said Carroll has a "plain-speaking, almost folksy manner and can bandy numbers with any member of the Bay Street crowd." So far Carroll is the only councillor to confirm she'll run if there's a byelection.toronto olivia chowOLIVIA CHOW

Widely touted as Toronto's saviour, Chow, like her late husband Jack Layton, has oodles of political nous. As a councillor last term she championed sustainable development, tackled homelessness, and, in stark contrast to Rob Ford, rode a floral, brightly colored bicycle to her office at City Hall. Chow was voted best councillor on several occassions by NOW magazine and is considered the strongest candidate to unseat Ford. Anyone would think she was actually running.


A former mayoral nominee in 2003 and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, John Tory could, as Star columnist Royson James puts it, be a chance "to hit the reset button" button on Ford's divisive politics and put forward a credible, pro-urban conservative candidate.

Tory has the chops, too: he leads CivicAction, a non-partisan group that tackles social and economic issues in Toronto, and has a history of socially liberal policies. In Toronto, Tory also led the Ontario Place revitalization panel that delivered a report recommending the land become a public park. But will he run against Ford?


The former reporter turned Ford basher has made a name for himself outside City Hall for being an outspoken critic of the mayor and his politics. Vaughan has consistently proven he's not afraid to go toe-to-toe with Ford, even if it results in a shouting match. A vote for Vaughan is unlikely for anyone on the fence about the incumbent mayor.

In March, Vaughan wrote a letter of apology to Doug Ford's executive assistant Amin Massoudi after being heard saying "there go the Blackshirts" as the pair were seen entering the mayor's office. Other controversies could make him an easy target during a Ford campaign.toronto city councilGEORGIO MAMMOLITI

What a story it would be: Rob Ford's attack dog barks his way to the top of the pack. Mammoliti, in reality, is actually something of an enigma. A one-time NDP MPP, the veteran councillor was one of 12 party members to break ranks and vote against Bob Rae's Bill 167 that would have extended civil rights to same-sex couples.

Before he was the mayor's right hand man, Mammoliti was a strong critic of Rob Ford and the pair frequently clashed as representatives of neighbouring wards. According to Grid writer David Topping, who has a detailed list of insults traded between the pair, Mammoliti has called Ford an "idiot" and a "goon." Ford has used the pejoratives "snake" and "weasel" in response. Ah, friends.


The Jekyll to Ford's Hyde, Doug Holyday is a generally considered a more palatable fiscal conservative for those on other parts of council's political spectrum. The last mayor of Etobicoke before amalgamation and present deputy under Ford, Holyday has long advocated low spending and prides himself on an excellent attendance record, missing just 1.2 per cent of votes this term.

Holyday recently made headlines for his "little Ginny" comment during a debate on a quota for family-friendly units in new downtown condos. After questioning where downtown kids would play, the deputy mayor said "I could just see now: 'Where's little Ginny?' 'Well, she's downstairs playing in the traffic on her way to the park!'" Holyday hasn't ruled out a run, yet.toronto doug holydayKAREN STINTZ

The current TTC chair and Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence rep famous for her opposition to Ford on One City could, conceivably, have a good run. Possible targets for her opponents would be the OneCity transit plan, pitched out of nowhere with councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, that was pummeled into dust by the province, Metrolinx and city council.


Although she's an outside bet, Wong-Tam has had a strong first stint at council after being elected by a hair in the 2010 Toronto Centre-Rosedale vote. A former Timothy's franchise and art gallery owner, the tireless worker has championed the preservation of heritage buildings in her ward and been a strong voice for LGBTQ community issues. Wong-Tam hasn't clearly signaled she'd like to run at this stage but that hasn't stopped people wishing she would.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Who do you think the best candidates would be? Is it time the conservative members of council endorsed someone other than a member of the Ford family?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photos: "Vote here sign" by asianz , "Olivia Chow at Robocall Protest in Toronto" by Ryan Kelpin, in the blogTO Flickr pool and Chris Bateman/blogTO.



toooldforthis / December 4, 2012 at 01:31 pm
why do I feel so depressed after reading this list?
Byron / December 4, 2012 at 01:37 pm
It's funny how much better John Tory looks this time around with Rob Ford in the driver's seat.

Respectfully, a vote for Olivia is a vote for Jack and Jack is no longer with us.
skeeter / December 4, 2012 at 01:43 pm
I think it's time we have a mayor like this:
j-rock / December 4, 2012 at 02:03 pm
Chow won't do it, and Tory won't run against Ford. Therefore Robbie will win again. It sucks, but there's nobody on that list that can take him out, unless the "anyone but Ford" vote coalesces around Shelley Carroll. Adam Vaughn is so hated outside of downtown, that he would actually be doing Ford a favour by running.

But it would have to be a head-to-head match up, to avoid vote splitting, and even then,I still don't love her odds. His base is fired up, are the anti-Ford voters as eager? That's certainly the case where I live, but I can't assume that's the same for the city as a whole.
Stuart / December 4, 2012 at 02:30 pm
Apparently Dennis Mills is considering a run and sounding out his chances, at least according to the poll I just participated in...
v79 / December 4, 2012 at 02:42 pm
Chow is too smart to run. She knows that her popularity is based on Jack and not anything concrete. Once it comes to actually promoting policies and skills, she'll be severely outmatched by just about everyone, and her fiscal lean is not at all what the city needs right now. For someone who's been living off the public trough for so long, she's remarkably unaccomplished as both a City Councillor and MP. A population that bent right two years ago isn't going to suddenly swing the opposite way when Ford's policies are more or less working. Anyway, a byelection would be an outright waste of money. Council should simply appoint Holyday or Ford as mayor (even if his appeal fails) and continue on as-is until 2014.
John replying to a comment from Stuart / December 4, 2012 at 02:46 pm
Dennis Mills? Awesome, just what we need. Another anti-gay alcoholic at the helm.
Nerves / December 4, 2012 at 03:20 pm
Needs to be a single 'not Rob Ford' candidate. Never again.
yyz / December 4, 2012 at 03:26 pm
there needs to be a credible conservative candidate. john tory as an outsider may be that man as he isn't polluted by the current rancor on council. if there isn't a credible conservative many of the buffoons will vote for the buffoon. the last thing we need is the buffoon back in office.
avas / December 4, 2012 at 03:28 pm
i didnt vote for rob ford last time , but the extreme bias of the media and the u.s style right wing tactics the left is pulling , ill vote for him as a protest vote , plus i dont lie downtown and i think a mayor should mayor the whole city
Rick / December 4, 2012 at 03:30 pm
Why the hell would that moron Adam Vaughan run???
Is this fool literally retarded? Will he be using his own money to campaign ?

It would be a very sad day if the people of Toronto vote this blundering, diaper-boy clown in office.

Henry / December 4, 2012 at 03:33 pm
Wong-Tam had that ridiculous parking motion last year. Won't vote for her for that. Tory tried to fund religious schools with public tax dollars. I don't think gov't should be in the religion business. Won't vote for him. Olivia Chow is out of her depth. The rest? Meh.
Jack / December 4, 2012 at 03:46 pm
Where's Rocco Rossi and his bocce balls?
avas replying to a comment from Rick / December 4, 2012 at 03:47 pm
his dad has to be turning in his grave knowing what his son has become , taking basically bribes for the city to any condo development, and destroying lower ossington because he didn't feel welcomed in the clubs in the club district
dm / December 4, 2012 at 03:57 pm
Electing Chow, Vaughan (or Wong-Tam, not that she'd be remotely credible) will just ensure continued resentment and division. The ABF candidate needs to be a centrist - whether centre-right (Tory, Stintz) or centre-left (Carroll), make it someone without an overarching ideological brand.

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure OneCity was highly popular. Don't see how an attempt to produce a comprehensive transit plan, whether successful or not, will count as baggage.
j-rock replying to a comment from avas / December 4, 2012 at 03:59 pm
A protest vote could involve writing in Mickey Mouse for mayor. Voting for Rob Ford at this point, in order to make some type of "statement", is merely cutting off your nose to spite your face. All of our faces for that matter.

And if you really think that "a mayor should mayor the whole city (sic)", that's yet another reason to not vote for Ford. He has raised the practice of pitting various areas and constituencies against each other to an art form.
Vote for Moneesha! / December 4, 2012 at 04:06 pm
All my BlogTO friends: please vote for me, Moneesha!

If you vote for me, I will make sure that "artists" don't receive any more of taxpayer's money via grants. I will force all so-called "musicians" to get real jobs, and ban all Fine Arts programs at universities.

Lovingly yours,
Vote for Moneesha! / December 4, 2012 at 04:08 pm
Oh, and I will also ban Hallowe'en and the stupid Goblin/monster march. No more glorifying death and violence! After such ban, you can bet our crime rates will drop!

C / December 4, 2012 at 04:13 pm
The only two credible candidates in the list are Olivia Chow and Adam Vaughan. Chow would make a fantastic mayor, but with all her experience and know-how I think she can probably accomplish more in her current job at the federal level. She's too good for all the mud-slinging this job entails.

For the good of the city I hope another conservative doesn't win, but as long as he/she is not too extreme (and inept) like Ford I think those of a liberal persuasion will cut him/her some slack. We can't do any worse than Rob Ford, so it's all uphill from here.
Mt / December 4, 2012 at 04:14 pm
none of these candidates are particularly enticing. it's fantasy but if John Parker ran I would vote for him instantly, and I'm not a conservative supporter. he's basically the only level headed person at city hall right now and I have a great deal of respect for him, but I know he'll never run.
j-rock replying to a comment from C / December 4, 2012 at 04:27 pm
I wouldn't care if a conservative won provided that they're competent and put the good of the city ahead of ideology.

And while I personally like him, I think it's a bit of a stretch to categorize Adam Vaughn as a "credible" candidate. He is toxic to voters beyond the boundaries of old Toronto, and is widely viewed as a caricature of the "typical leftie, downtown socialist". His proposed ban on bullets is a persistent source of ridicule to his opponents, and if things ever slow down on NewsTalk 1010, all they have to do is mention his name, and the phone lines light up with people foaming at the mouth. He is like red meat to the suburban Ford voters. He might well have won pre-amalgamation, but he stands no chance now. And after Ford, the city can't really afford another polarizing mayor.
mar / December 4, 2012 at 04:55 pm
This is totally out there but I'd like to see Holyday finish Ford's term (as you know, a deputy Mayor is supposed to do) then in 2014 see Gerard Kennedy run for Mayor after losing his provincial bid to Kathleen Wynne.
Jack replying to a comment from C / December 4, 2012 at 06:12 pm
C - I bet many would argue with you that Chow and Vaughn are credible candidates.
C replying to a comment from j-rock / December 4, 2012 at 06:15 pm
Sorry, I meant "credible" in *my* mind, not to the voting public. I agree, Vaughan doesn't have widespread support and does rub some people the wrong way.
Yeah, right / December 4, 2012 at 06:44 pm
Mammoliti? LOL
em / December 4, 2012 at 06:45 pm
If Chow runs I will vote for her because she would make a fantastic mayor. Anyone saying "she's just jack laytons wife" is a sexist dolt. She is a highly accomplished and experienced public servant with a progressive ideology that the other candidates are sorely lacking.
astrobum replying to a comment from Vote for Moneesha! / December 4, 2012 at 06:45 pm
lol. no one would vote for you, Moneesha! LOL. Stupid.
M / December 4, 2012 at 07:19 pm
Maybe the Hulk Mayor would take care of things!

He even has a Toronto: ARRRRRRRRGOOOOOOOOOOOSSSS! jersey in his closet.(before they won the Grey Cup to boot!!)

Check him out @hulkmayor and read his 20 questions in our blog
cwg / December 4, 2012 at 07:28 pm
The polls and most political observers that I've read (including the right-wing The Post) are not giving the odds to Ford to pull this one off- he's just f'd up too much and has lost much of the vote outside his base (which has never been a grand amount).

Thankfully those commenting above seem not to represent the views of Toronto as a whole.
Justin / December 4, 2012 at 08:29 pm
I can't decide who's worse: Carroll, Vaughan, Wong-Tam, or Chow. Probably Shelly Carroll, just because the other three (unlike Carroll) have the slightest shred of intelligence despite their political views.
Steven / December 4, 2012 at 08:35 pm
How about somebody run for mayor, right here, in the COMMENTS thread? A BlogTO'er should run, just for the sake of it. Time to get a new perspective at city hall instead of the regular politicians. If not, I'll vote for Ford. The others just don't cut it anymore.

Chow is making more $$$ as an MP than she will make as mayor. She faces less opposition and BS in Ottawa than even thinking of running for civic office.

See? We need a new perspective at city hall. Anybody?
Parkdalian / December 4, 2012 at 08:41 pm
I'm hoping that Adam Vaughan throws his hat in to the race. Put those suburban types in their rightful place. Downtown is the place to be and to raise a family.
Adam Sobolak / December 4, 2012 at 08:43 pm
Funny how nobody else on Ford's exec besides Holyday and Stintz (and Mammo) have popped up--I've long felt Michael Thompson to be a potential credible right-of-centre standard-bearer (and indeed, there was talk of him running in 2010)
Vote for Moneesha replying to a comment from Steven / December 4, 2012 at 09:22 pm
Steven / DECEMBER 4, 2012 AT 08:35 PM
"How about somebody run for mayor, right here, in the COMMENTS thread? A BlogTO'er should run, just for the sake of it."

If you read my comment above, I said that I was running. Support me or pay the ultimate price: a city full of tree-hugging, leftist, living-at-home "artists".

My Toronto only includes ppl who work real jobs. Privatize everything. And, let the taxpayers be free from the busy-body nanny state. And, long live SHARK FIN SOUP!. Yum!
kn replying to a comment from em / December 4, 2012 at 09:28 pm
really?? olivia chow has a progressive ideology? she is a relic from the 60's. a time when people thought countries didn't need to worry about deficits and the messy reality of paying for all the half baked ideas she whines about. if we had it her way, we would go back to the old days when we just called up the bank of canada and told them we are running out of money and tell them to print more!!! olivia, adam, may i introduce you to greece? by the way adam, toronto is not a country. we then can conclude that, 1) we don't have boundaries that we can guard and 2) as a result of 1) we cannot ban guns. and how did these 2 people get elected??
Really? replying to a comment from Parkdalian / December 4, 2012 at 09:35 pm
You are what you hate.
paul / December 4, 2012 at 09:40 pm

Can't wait to see the candidates falling over each other promising to "respect the taxpayer", no doubt the theme of the next couple of elections.

Rob Ford's essence will linger long after he's gone.
paul / December 4, 2012 at 09:56 pm
Can't wait to see the candidates falling over each other promising to "respect the taxpayer", no doubt the theme of the next couple of elections.

Rob Ford's essence will linger long after he's gone.
Toby Buckets / December 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm
If they're smart, Ford's opponents on council should avoid a by-election and instead pass the Mayor's chair to deputy Doug Holliday. The move would give them more time to fund raise, and by 2014 Mr Ford will be forgotten.
tnt / December 4, 2012 at 11:15 pm
Lest we forget...Chow and Layton lived in subsidized housing while raking in a combined salary of 120,000 + ,...and people are complaining about Ford buying black kids football gear?????
Mike / December 4, 2012 at 11:26 pm
John Tory is a no-brainer to lead this city. Will he run? I don't think so after two crushing losses in the last ten years.

He's the only hope for this city right now.

Downtown liberal
the lemur replying to a comment from tnt / December 4, 2012 at 11:37 pm
It was mixed-income housing. Their unit wasn't subsidized, because their income was higher than most other residents, and they were the only ones to voluntarily pay more when their income increased. The coop board publicly stated that was how the mixed-income coop was supposed to work. The city's lawyer cleared them of any wrongdoing.

I can't believe people still think 'they lived in subsidized housing' all because of a 22-year-old Star article based on some BS that Tom Jakobek, paragon of honesty that he is, told the journalist and which has long since been debunked.
Sezme replying to a comment from Mike / December 5, 2012 at 12:17 am
"John Tory is a no-brainer" Truer words were never typed. I would think that for Tory to get the trifecta after already losing for Mayor and Premier, he should try for Harper's job.
MaryHynes / December 5, 2012 at 01:36 am
He may not be running but John Parker would be a great caretaker mayor. He's in the middle (more or less) and he works and plays well with others.
MaryHynes replying to a comment from mar / December 5, 2012 at 01:40 am
Deputy Mayor is NOT expected to fill term
Simon Tarses / December 5, 2012 at 03:15 am
Olivia Chow, Adam Vaughn, Kristin Wong-Tam or bust. If we get any more neoocon dolts, they city will be in real trouble and just as its detractors accuse it of being.

We need somebody to stand up against the big money developers and anybody else messing up our fair city, and John Tory isn't it; the man's a member of the party that fracked up Toronto and most of Ontario, for gosh sakes. Are we so tired of Ford that we get a neocon lite version of him in his place?

As well, it's time that a person of color gets elected to high office in this city, and I think that either Wang-Tam or Chow fit the bill a lot more than just another white face.
j-rock replying to a comment from tnt / December 5, 2012 at 08:38 am
I would expect to hear this tired old fable over at the Sun, not here. How many times can one smear be debunked before it stops being worth the effort?
j-rock replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / December 5, 2012 at 08:42 am
Chow would do well city-wide, but she's not running, and the other two have no appeal outside of downtown. Especially Vaughn. And while I agree about reigning in the developers, there's no evidence to suggest that there's any difference between "left" and "right" leaning mayors in that respect. Plenty of cheap, ugly glass monstrosities were approved and built under Miller.
Shelly / December 5, 2012 at 08:54 am
Wong-tam? Seriously? She hates bikes.
the lemur replying to a comment from Shelly / December 5, 2012 at 09:08 am
Even though she rides one and owns several?
Parkdalian / December 5, 2012 at 09:19 am
Chow and Wong should endorse the only guy with a shot....Adam Vaughn. Time to put Scarborough and Etobicoke on the sidelines with Ford.
scottd / December 5, 2012 at 09:45 am
Regardless of how his constituents feel about Vaughan the reality is that a lot of people dont like him and find him polarizing. He will drive votes to Ford. Mammoliti is certainly an enigma and possibly unbalanced. I would love him to run just for the entertainment!
Vinny Bahri / December 5, 2012 at 10:08 am
toooldforthis replying to a comment from Parkdalian / December 5, 2012 at 10:20 am
You are delusional. You've spent too much time in a Parkdale hipster echo chamber. The majority of the city outside the core (including the inner suburbs) would reject Vaughn (or Wong-Tam or Chow for that matter).

A byelection would be a disaster for all the Ford-haters. Nothing will energize his supporters more than him being ousted from office by an unelected judge at the behest of downtown left-wing "elites". It's an easy story for him to sell. The only hope for getting rid of Ford is to have someone else appointed for the remainder of the term.
skeeter / December 5, 2012 at 10:29 am
Don Andrews, anyone?
Tim / December 5, 2012 at 10:30 am
So many people across the city hate Adam Vaughn, and I don't understand why. Why all the rancour?

If you've ever heard him give a policy talk, for example, on the role of planning and land use, his acumen inspires a lot of confidence.

So someone please explain it. I'm open to being educated.
Parkdalian replying to a comment from toooldforthis / December 5, 2012 at 10:37 am
I know a lot of people don't like Adam, but that's just similar to Ford's distractors. Listen to what Vaughan has to say...he makes so much sense when it comes to everyday issues. We should all strive to make Toronto a better place to live for all...especially families with young children. Vaughan has it right. Everyone should feel safe anywhere in Toronto, but especially in the downtown core...after all not everyone goes to the suburbs, but everyone goes downtown sometimes. You will all see when he becomes our mayor!
Parkdalian replying to a comment from Tim / December 5, 2012 at 10:45 am
Suburbians just don't appreciate the potential of Vaughan as mayor the way most of us do. They will see that his vision of Toronto is just so much better than Ford's and his ilk.
the lemur replying to a comment from Tim / December 5, 2012 at 10:52 am
I don't think it's necessarily true that a lot of people dislike him - it's that the people who do are very vocal, and it bothers them when he points out that their own politicians are being hypocritical:

I also don't get how he gets pigeonholed as someone who is beholden to developers, when his constituents actually have his support in getting the right kind of developments in their neighbourhood and using the developer fee revenue for projects to improve the neighbourhood instead of using the property tax base.
Todd / December 5, 2012 at 11:24 am
Perfect solution. Get rid of the megacity, let those who think Scarborough is Nepean choose their own leadership, let those who are aware that they live in a city and it costs money to have nice things elect their own for the old core.

Unless some fantasy centrist comes along (he/she won't), we're stuck with this polarizing, US-style left/right nonsense every four years and nothing will get accomplished, just like NOTHING has since the birth of the megacity. Time to start thinking of a mutually beneficial solution.
j-rock replying to a comment from Tim / December 5, 2012 at 11:48 am
Let me start by saying that I like Adam Vaughn. But don't kid yourself, he is one of the most hated councilors in the city.

He's a great representative for a downtown ward, as he understands his constituents, having spent his entire life in "old Toronto".

He's obviously very intelligent, but doesn't take great pains to hide the fact that he knows that, which can rub some people the wrong way. He also makes little effort to hide his glee when criticizing the mayor over his many missteps, and has been quite strident in his (totally valid) attacks on the mayor.

A lot of it comes down to the fact that he is the physical and ideological representative of the "downtown leftie elitist" caricature that Ford and his supporters have created. He is the Emmanuel Goldstein to Rob Ford's Big Brother. And the proposed ban on bullets was dumb.

You will probably get a better answer from someone who actually despises him, but I know from talking to conservative friends and acquaintances, listening to talk radio and reading the Post (and sometimes the Sun - but mainly for laughs), that the hate is very real, and it runs deep.
j-rock replying to a comment from toooldforthis / December 5, 2012 at 11:50 am
Chow would wipe the floor with Ford. Nearly every poll taken has indicated that it wouldn't even be close. And that's across the entire city. But you're right about the other two.
Charles Marker / December 5, 2012 at 02:33 pm
Many of the comments here reflect not only the polarized views in the city but also the lack of respect on all sides for different opinions. Sad and discouraging.
Chet / December 5, 2012 at 04:43 pm
Chow ..........Chow??? That's all we have? Now if you are considering voting for chow, ask urself something real quick. She has been our MP for Trinity Spadina since 06. Name one accomplishment. Just one that helped her riding in a significant way! She is a career politician riding the coattails of her dead husband. Why the hell out of all the people that we should be considering, educated, smart, visionary people.......... we look to Chow?
WE CAN DO BETTER. No i'm not a conservative and happen to despise Rob Ford, but my god, we can do so much better than Chow. I just can't understand the excitement behind voting for this woman.
Rabecca / December 7, 2012 at 08:52 pm
I vote for vaughan or CHow, simply because they would make great mayors. In my dreams i think this city is better of with a council and not a mayor.
Lucas / December 7, 2012 at 08:53 pm
Im in for Chow
JacobXII / December 7, 2012 at 08:53 pm
I will vote for adam vaughan or olivia chow.
JacobXII / December 7, 2012 at 08:54 pm
Hope no one elects Ford again. another four years with him. Yea this citie will be in died little tiny motherf***** peices / April 21, 2013 at 02:33 pm
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