By: Matt Shott
“The challenge here is getting these incredibly diverse people, in this incredibly diverse ward to get out and express their preference” – Toronto Ward 29 Candidate – John Richardson
For the first time in over 15 years, the city of Toronto’s Ward 29 will see a new city leader since current councillor Case Ootes has decided to retire from politics.
Upon hearing of the retirement, former Ward 27 councilor and 2006 Toronto mayor candidate, Jane Pitfield, despite living outside Ward 29’s boundaries, decided to throw her name onto the candidates list, along with four other candidates including John Richardson, who feels the voters will vote for the issues rather than the experience.
“I think the race is totally wide open,” Richardson said, “I feel the people are uncomfortable voting for someone who lives outside of the Ward.”
Pitfield became a city councillor of Ward 27 in 1997 after she initially lost the election by a close margin, but was later elected when it was decided the ward she ran for needed a third councilor.
With seven years of experience as a councillor under her belt by 2005, Pitfield decided to run for Mayor of Toronto in 2006. Pitfield ultimately lost the election by over a 24% margin and had only recently decided her knowledge of politics would help Ward 29 become a better place to live.
One voice hoping to be heard is that of Chris Caldwell, a 41 year-old business analyst who registered as a candidate two days prior to Ootes announcing he would not be running for re-election.
“I looked forward to running against him,” Caldwell told the Town Crier publication in February, “There’s a lot I didn’t agree with Ootes on, but it runs deeper than that. It is how people are engaged in the planning process. They want to see their desires reflected in policy.”
Caldwell’s main issue is getting the community within Ward 29 more active in the decisions made by the councillor regarding the development of their part of town. He is encouraging the residents to be involved with the issues within the city.
While his issues are quite similar to his opponent, Richardson’s biggest concern is that not enough people are voting, claiming that only 1/3 of the people who live in Ward 29 voted during the last election.
“The challenge here is getting these incredibly diverse people, in this incredibly diverse ward to get out and express their preference,” he continued.
Richardson admitted his biggest concern for the ward is the lack of voting and went on to say that if he wasn’t elected that it would not be the end of the world for him, as long as people went out and voted for the right issues and his issues were heard.
“My top priority would be to have the councilor represent the residents of the ward.” Richardson stated, “That includes actively seeking people’s views and concerns on particular issues.”
“I would expect and hope that people understand that I am completely independent when it comes to political parties.”
Then there is the candidate Mike Restivo, a Toronto native who has lived in Ward 29 the entire 59 years of his life, who claims to know what the perfect candidate consists of.
“Each candidate needs to have three colors of strength,” Restivo explained, “Experience in the real world, education and intelligence, and a moral foundation.”
The main points in Restivo’s campaign mainly revolve around monetary issues, such as lower property taxes, yet raising TTC fares in order to make it a profitable business.
Restivo is well aware that a possible increase in TTC fares may not go over well at first, but he feels increased prices are a necessary step to take and claims it is still cheaper then parking downtown every day.
Though money is a sensitive subject for citizens of Ward 29 Restivo does not think it is the province of Ontario’s responsibility to just open their check books.
“No one should expect the province to bail out the City of Toronto,” he told the Town Crier. “We have to carry our own weight.”
The fifth candidate is the literally unknown candidate, Jennifer Wood, who has no website or information regarding her issues or philosophy of her campaign.
It seems to be a consensus among the candidates that their biggest goal during this election is to make the city they live in a better place not just for themselves, but for every person who lives in it.
“Toronto is my home and where I live,” Richardson said, “and I have great interest in trying to contribute to it”.
Matt Shot is a journalism student at Centennial College.