Our First Ever Official Endorsement

October 6, 2010

After last night’s ward 19 council debate held at the Garrison on Dundas Street West, I have come to the conclusion that we’d have much more clarity at the mayoral level if the debates were held in bars. In the backroom of bars. With access to alcoholic beverages.

Formal structures tend to break down and the audience becomes involved. Candidates have to think on their feet especially when pat, pre-packaged answers are noisily shouted down by the crowd. It’s like a trial by fire for the spot they’re campaigning for at City Hall.

The first thing that became clear last night is that we have an embarrassment of riches for council candidates here in ward 19. Of the 9 running to replace outgoing councillor and mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone, three would easily be up to the task, each bringing a fresh, new perspective as the ward’s representative on council. That situation alone makes me more determined than ever to further the cause of a ranked ballot voting system which, oddly enough, few of the candidates spoke up in favour of when asked the question from an audience member.

But at this point, let me tell you who I will not be voting for. Neither Sean McCormick nor Mike Layton. Both men feel like consummate opportunists, stepping forward into an open ward in order to advance their own personal ambition. Former sportscaster McCormick puts a shiny face to anti-City Hall, Ford-esque politics without adding any substance whatsoever. He quickly turned the crowd — which had been rowdy but largely encouraging — ugly when, in answering the question about the Ossington bar and restaurant moratorium, said how the street’s development had been important because as recently as 5 years ago, he and his wife had been afraid to walk there at night. What?! Are we talking about the same Ossington Street? Our Ossington Street?

As for Mike Layton, well, his pedigree may well be as much a hindrance as it is a help. Possessing the unrelenting earnestness of his father with none of the spark of his dad’s wife, Olivia Chow, Layton the younger comes across as a design model for the “perfect” Ward 19 council candidate. The next generation, chip off the old block replicant, he tosses around empty left wing cant as easily and emptily as McCormick does neo-conservative blather. Mike Layton is part of a municipal machine that residents around here seem to be growing weary of. This became painfully obvious when questioned about the mandatory inclusion of school board trustee incumbent, Chris Bolton (himself an object of attack from his opponent earlier in the evening for being part of this same political operation), name on Layton’s lawn signs. Caught flat-footed, Layton hummed and hawed, seeming to be genuinely surprised that anyone who would be voting for him wouldn’t be voting for Chris Bolton as well.

While Layton and McCormick treated each other with a contempt that suggested they believed they were the only two candidates on the ballot, most of the others up on stage with them delivered a genuine passion for public service that elicited unadulterated warm and fuzzies. David Footman again impressed with what is not a blanket anger toward City Hall but a frustration born of experience dealing with its bureaucracy and elected officials. A frustration that suggests things between residents and the city, and small businesses and the city could and should just work better. Not with a massive overhaul but a basic rethinking and retooling of rules and regulations along with simply opening up and easing access to the officials in order to allow a freer flow of thoughts and ideas. Too often, however, during the course of both ward 19 debates that I’ve attended, Mr. Footman has simply shrugged his shoulders at a question asked him because he doesn’t have an answer. While such frankness about ignorance can be endearing in small doses, it suggests to me that Mr. Footman needs to broaden his knowledge base somewhat before expecting people to throw their support behind him.

Which is the complete opposite of candidate George Sawision. A lifetime resident of ward 19, Sawision ran against Pantalone in 2006 and harbours a lingering dislike of the man who seems to be one of the very few people Mr. Sawision bears animosity toward. Mr. Sawision works tirelessly it seems in, at, and around City Hall in an effort to understand the mechanics of municipal governance and to discover ways to make it work better. The guy loves this community and you believe him whole-heartedly when he pledges that if elected ward 10 councillor, he’d be working for the residents not for himself. He already does. If George Sawision possessed fewer libertarian quirks, he’d be hard to ignore as the best choice on the ballot.

A spot taken in our books by Karen Sun. Possessing all the progressive credentials that Mike Layton has with none of the political baggage, Ms. Sun boasts real life experience in implementing her ideals. An organizer, volunteer and committee member, she represents those ideals Toronto needs to embrace if it’s to move forward and maintain its place as a significant city at the core of a vibrant regional economic and societal hub. Diversity, sustainability, innovation, deeper and more inclusive civic involvement, all comprise the basis of Ms. Sun’s campaign and are why she deserves to be ward 19’s next councillor.

Our only concern about Karen Sun is how her youthful, wide-eyed optimism will fare in the shark tank that is city council. But at last night’s debate, she displayed a quiet steeliness that avoided the loud, personal invective that dominated the stage at times. Her positive enthusiasm transcended the bitter tone toward City Hall which has been the trademark of the entire campaign in 2010. So, who knows? Maybe Karen Sun will change city council more than it changes her.

Our one word of advice for Ms. Sun would be, if you’re elected on October 25th, your first move should be to hire both George Sawision and David Footman onto your staff. Mr. Sawision will give you his considerable knowledge about City Hall and the workings of its various departments while Mr. Footman could serve as your enforcer. He seems to have a gritty, no bullshit demeanour that would serve you well. The three of you would make a winning team.

Just throwing it out there.

Karen Sun for city councillor in Ward 19.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr


A Sunday P.S.A.

September 19, 2010

Having decided upon HiMY SYeD as our nominee for 6th mayoral candidate on Friday (and remember to go to ArtsVote Toronto 2010 to vote for the 6th candidate that you’d like to see at their debate on Septemeber 29th), a couple other notes of interest came to our attention as we searched through the archives here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke.

Selwyn Firth, subject of Meet A Mayoral Candidate IV — the one where Apollo Creed gets killed by the Soviet robot — delivers two lectures to outline a couple of his platform planks. Misinterpreted Climate Science, and Super Clean Incineration will be held Wednesday September 29th at 7 pm in J.J.R. McLeod Auditorium U of T Medical Sciences Building. Then on October 8th in the OISE auditorium at 8 pm, Mr. Firth will be dealing with the problem of traffic congestion here in Toronto and how to solve it. Included in his proposals will be the need to build the Spadina Expressway. So Rocco Rossi fans should mark the date in the calendars. For more details, go to Selwyn For Mayor.

And we were surprised to learn that Sonny Yeung, our very first mayoral candidate profile and one of our favourite contributors to the Comments section here, packed in his aspirations for the office of mayor and decided to run for a school board spot in Ward 22. Now, we don’t know much about kids, finding them to be largely loud, shifty, always wanting something from you and never really willing to pull their own weight. (Knock on wood we’re finally rid of ours, having packed the last one off to university this year. Fingers crossed none of them think they can return home when they find themselves inevitably “in between jobs”.) But we do know that the kids of Ward 22 could be served worse by having someone aside from Sonny Yeung as school board trustee.

We have met Mr. Yeung at a couple elections functions during the campaign and found him to be very engaged with and informed about the issues at hand. He is diligent and actively participates in the civic arena. Not at all up on the particulars at the TDSB in Scarborough (where Ward 22 is located), we are hardly in a position to endorse Mr. Yeung but he certainly seems worthy of consideration. We wish him the best of luck in the race.

In fact, we extend best wishes to all those candidates like Sonny Yeung and Selwyn Firth for their continued determination and conscientiousness. Campaigning, largely outside the media spotlight, displays a true commitment to our democratic process and a healthy desire to offer up solutions toward making Toronto a better city for all. We applaud you. Keep on keeping on.

applaudingly submitted by Cityslikr