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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday, 20 October 2014

#TOVotes14: CCE Endorses

The value of endorsements is sometimes questioned - I believe they matter. 

I think that most of us can be hesitant to go with our gut.  When we're faced with choosing a political representative we're not familiar with, an endorsement serves a bit like a reference on a CV - if someone out there thinks well of the person we're considering, it helps us make our choice.

While the focus for endorsements tends to lean on big names - former Mayors, sitting elected officials or community leaders - the ones that often have the most impact come from the people we know and respect on a personal level. 

In both cases, what we're looking for is someone to believe in.

Toronto's City Council is in sore need of fresh blood, of voices that are unafraid to stand up for their communities, but with a mind towards solving problems, not picking fights.  Partisan voices that look at both wins and losses tactically are exactly what we don't need right now.  We also should steer clear of the attention-seekers; as we saw with four years of the Ford Show, too much oxygen gets wasted on scandal that really should be going to communities.

I'm not a resourced newspaper; I'm not going to offer a comprehensive endorsement per riding.  What I will do is single out some people I think are amazing and know would work together in powerful ways for the people of Toronto.

I cannot speak highly enough of Idil.  She's smart, she's passionate and she's articulate.  Her heart if clearly in her community, but her mind has a laser-like focus on fixing how our politics engages. 

Idil and I worked together briefly at Queen's Park, where she proved to be an absolute dynamo.  My favourite memory is her taking a room full of MPPs, including Ministers, to task over TAVIS and the need for deeper understanding of issues facing Toronto's Somali communities.

 She is exactly the type of leader we need at City Hall.

I first met Andray when he was a speaker for Why Should I Care? - I was impressed with the depth of his knowledge, the clarity of his language and the passion of his commitment.  After the chat, we got to talking about communities, youth and how we need a more Maslow-like approach for Toronto's Neighbourhood Improvement Areas - focus on building strengths instead of focusing strictly on problems.
I've had a couple of chances to meet with Andray and his team since - they're the real deal.  He is committed to his community, full stop; he won't back away if he doesn't win.  This is exactly why you want him to win, Ward 2 - imagine ideas like Techsdale coming to life with the full support of the City and the kind of private sector partners Councilors have an easier time leveraging.

This is my Ward.  I first met Pasternak during the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods consultation; like a couple of councilors, he had opted to sit in and here some of the discussion.  Not all of them did.
What really stood out to me was the fact that Pasternak really engaged in these conversations - he knew the issues, new the people around the table and actually listened to what was being said.  That doesn't happen all the time.

Oh, and I hear he's interested in pushing forward Toronto's Open Government initiative.  That's a good thing.

Colle gets some flak for being a "political heir" that, in my opinion, is unfounded.  I used to live in Ward 15 and have been involved with Lawrence Heights in particular for ages.  I am constantly seeing Josh around, or hearing about his initiatives, or bumping in to his staff.

Josh is thoughtful, engaging and committed.  He's expressed interest in community development projects the like of which Andray Domise and Idil Burale have discussed and I know he's going to love what Toronto Youth Cabinet's Policy Advisor Chole Brown is cooking up.  We need him on Council this term.
Also for that neck of the woods - I would love to see Jennifer Arp as the next TDSB Trustee for Ward 8.  Jennifer and I met for coffee a few weeks back and had an in-depth chat about schools in the region (my wife teaches at one, my son is at one, my family has a strong connection to schools in Lawrence Heights).  She got the issues from the grassroots level up; she understood the need for education to be holistic, for parents to be involved and most importantly, for the school board to be at the table in conversations with other community partners on things like community safety.

Jennifer gets it, which is why she's garnered so much support, including from the local MPP.  She deserves your confidence as well.

Alejandra isn't entitled to Ward 17 because she's run so convincingly in the past; she deserves to be Councilor because of her unwavering commitment to her community.  Alejandra and I had an in-depth chat a while back about civic engagement, the need to get more of City Hall out into communities as well as having a council more reflective of the citizens they represent.  We talked about how to create new opportunities in marginalized communities and how to fund those opportunities.
I walked away from that meeting knowing Alejandra was someone I wanted to work with.  If you've had the pleasure of chatting with her, you probably feel the same way.  She's a leader - we need leaders.

Alex similarly invited me to coffee a couple of months back (if you haven't noticed yet, Council Candidates drink a lot of caffeine) to chat politics in general and the City in particular.  We both had a Queen's Park background and so were familiar with each other in that regard, but we'd never actually met.

I was rapidly impressed by Alex's understanding of how the system works, especially when it comes to budgeting, and how things can be done better.  Beyond this, he had really dug deep into the local issues of his community and talked comfortably about the day-to-day issues a young family, a senior or struggling New Canadians may face.  And he wants to improve conditions for all of them.

Just imagine what folk like Alex, Alejandra, Idil and my next choice could accomplish together through stuff like ResetTO.

Terri is both my friend and my leader.  As part of the Why Should I Care? team, it has been my honour and privilege to see Terri in action; how she stick-handles strong personalities, how she turns adversity into opportunity and her commitment to her beliefs and the people around her.  No matter how "big" she has gotten (WSIC has gone from a thing in her kitchen with a family doctor to an enterprise with a Bell Local show and Economic Club of Canada-level speakers), it hasn't changed her, at all.

Terri is Terri - smart, engaged, cuts to the chase, gets things done.  She is beholden to no partisan ideology and does not see being Councilor as either a stepping stone or a consolation prize.  She never wavers in what she believes in and has truly lived her motto: get informed, get engaged make a difference. 
Terri is going to make an amazing difference for #Ward20.

Dan and I have been in touch a great deal over the past year, chatting about community and issues via social media and in person.  No matter how busy he's gotten, he's always had time for me - the same holds true for everyone that tries to connect with him.
Calm in demeanour, determined in approach and thoughtful in his positions, Dan is a voice of reason with an eye for innovative solutions.  Like every candidate on this list, he realizes that Council needs to do more engaging with the people of Toronto - all the people of Toronto; the solutions we need won't be enforced from the top down, but collaborated upon from the bottom up.

That's my list - those are the candidates I know and would love to see on Council.  I hope you do, too; they won't disappoint. 
Each one of them is passionately committed to their communities.  They understand issues on the individual and structural level.  Each one of them will fight for their constituents.
At the same time, they are part of new generation of leaders that don't see Wards as fiefdoms in their care but see the role of Councilor as being a bridge between community and the City.  Each one of them is committed to empowering Torontonians to have a stronger voice in the decision-making process, which is a great thing.

These are the leaders we need to move Toronto forward. 

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