While Toronto’s mayoralty race continues to heat up, I thought I’d bring your attention back to the neighbourhood level for a moment. Don’t forget there are 45 votes on Council, and the Mayor only gets one.
Here’s a list of five candidates to watch. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a quick look at some of the most inspiring new faces we’re going to see in this election.
I have a lot of friends running (or considering a run) who would each make a great City Councillor in their own way. Over the next few months, you’ll be sure to see more on my blog about people like Susan Gapka, HiMY SYeD, Chris Tindal, Michael Layton, Josh Matlow, John Laforet, and a whole bunch of others.
But I’ve chosen to highlight these five today, because I think they’re in the best position to bring new progressive voices into City Hall and to help erode the disturbing gender imblance and cultural imbalance we currently have on Council.
Kristyn Wong-Tam, a well-known community organizer, is rumoured to be running in Ward 27 to replace Kyle Rae who is not running for re-election. She’s a long-time art collector, social entrepreneur and Realtor and was an appointed advisor to Mayor David Miller. Kristyn is a former Board Member and Past President of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter. She volunteers at the Triangle Program at Oasis Alternative Secondary School, and sits on the boards of the University of Toronto Art Centre, the Toronto Workforce Innovation Group, Church Wellesley Village BIA & the Toronto Women City Alliance.
Neethan Shan (website), a long time community activist and a public school trustee, is running in Ward 42 (currently occupied by incumbent Raymond Cho). He works as the Executive Director of Council of Agencies Serving South Asians. He’s worked in Scarborough for the past ten years in a variety of including education, children and youth work, employment, immigration and poverty reduction. He helped start and implement after-school programs in over twenty schools in Scarborough. The current City Council does not have any South Asian Councillors amongst the 44 seats. If elected, Neethan would also be the first Tamil to be elected to the Toronto City Council.
Hema Vyas (website) is running in Ward 18, to replace the seat left vacant by Adam Giambrone. Hema works as a program evaluator at Queen’s Park, and advises on provincial policy in regards to program effectiveness in the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. Hema’s has cross-sectoral experience in Canada, Japan and India. She designed and implemented English as a Second Language programs for youth in Japan and raised funds to do research in India so that she could understand how financial literacy education affects budget decisions in the household. She is Past President of the June Callwood Centre for Women and Families. She also serves as Community Representative on the Programs and Services Committee at Culturelink.
Mohamed Dhanani ran in Ward 26 in the last election, and is rumoured to be taking another run. The incumbent, John Parker, won the election with only 20%, with Dhanani coming in a close second. An immigrant raised by a single mother, Dhanani started out as a youth in Flemingdon Park and is now a businessman, consultant and policy advisor currently serving as Senior Strategy Advisor to the Deputy Premier of Ontario. Dhamani served as the chair of the Toronto Central LHIN, responsible for a $4 billion budget, and also as a board member of the Flemingdon Food Bank.
Please share your thoughts and comments below!
Karen Sun is a candidate in Trinity Spadina Ward 19, the seat vacated by Joe Pantalone. Karen is an environmental and social activist, currently working as the Executive Director of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter. She also currently sits on the boards of Heritage Toronto, the Working Women Community Centre, the Conservation Council of Ontario and the Chinese Interagency Network. Karen has worked extensively in the environmental sector, including stints at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and City of Toronto in Urban Forestry. She was also a member of Mayor Miller’s Roundtable on the Environment.