The view from the fringe: Talking politics with some unknown mayoral candidates
A dominatrix, a lawyer and a musician walk into City Hall. No, this is not a joke and they’re not there to visit Rob Ford for a night on the town, although that’s a genuine possibility. They’re there to run for his office.
For a view from the fringe, NOW interviewed three of the other 44 mayoral candidates you’ve likely never heard of to get some fresh perspectives.
Let’s be clear, beyond their run for office, their collective distaste for the Ford administration and their disdain for career politicians, they have nothing else in common. Their policies and ideas for how to run this town are as varied as their day jobs.
Ari Goldkind is a lawyer who has some refreshingly rational policies to build infrastructure in Toronto that would maintain its status as a world class city. When NOW asked what makes him different from the other politicians, he’s unapologetic and says the other candidates are part of a broken system.
“They carry career political baggage,” he says. He feels that would make it “impossible for them to lead a group of concerned councillors.”
“I want a mayor that I can admire,” he says, pointing out that his business and legal knowledge make him perfect for the job.
Calling himself a man of the city he’s lived in for 40 years, Goldkind says, “Ford is a millionaire many times over. The idea that he’s a man of the people is utterly ludicrous.”
As a fringe candidate, Goldkind appreciates that he’s “in single A trying to go to AA,” but truly believes he will rise up through the ranks and if you hear him out he may have a chance.
The first thing he would do is take a realistic approach to creating a sustainable future for our city through investing in it. He proposes surcharging properties that sell for over a million dollars, because if you can afford that “you can afford a little extra money for the city that’s given you such opportunity.” And, the increase would be equivalent to an extra $100 or $200 dollars a year or a “couple of tanks of gas.”
“We have a perversely dangerous aversion to reasonable tax increases to fund the city of the future,” he says. “Ford has moved us so far to the right that you even have Olivia Chow saying no new taxes past inflation. What that means is no capital investment in Toronto.”
He says it’s worth it “so that the poorest of people won’t be having to pay these stupid user fees” and with “TTC prices going up” he sees the wealthy and well-to-do of this city as greedy if they don’t want to “kick up to the Ontario average [property tax] so we can contribute our fair share to fund infrastructure.”
As for that infrastructure, he says “it’s in everybody’s interest, including our children’s which continually gets forgotten to build a city where people can get around easier.”
And as far as the island airport goes he’s stands in diametric opposition to “wrecking the harbourfront.”
“There’s no clamour in this city for an expansion to that airport. It’s being created by one extraordinarily intelligent man,” he says referring to Porter Airlines president Bob Deluce.
So after hearing a little bit about Ari, what’s his campaign promise: “To always tell the truth about the challenges facing Toronto.”
From another perspective, NOW talked to the man behind RobbnotFord.com. Robb Johannes doesn’t feel that Ford has been honest or that he reflects our city’s diverse population.
The musician hopes to distance himself from the other candidates and the “cult of personality” started by Ford. Johannes says all the top candidates are engaged in building a name for themselves pointing out that David Soknacki participated with his popular, but short-lived memes.
“I think citizens of Toronto have had enough of characters representing us,” he says. “We need people that we can relate to.”
With a diverse background working in social services, Johannes has experience “taking disparate interests and finding ways to bridge them.” He did just that when he was the executive director of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users that fought for the first legal supervised injection site in North America.
Of course, transit and accessibility are large pieces of his platform, as they should be for any candidate. He knows people personally that have turned down jobs because their commute would have included a ride on the King streetcar.
“The fact that only 31 of 69 TTC stops are wheelchair accessible” makes the city less inclusive, he says.
He would change that and open discussions on introducing summer bike lanes on Bloor and Danforth and eliminating traffic on King and Queen streets making them pedestrian corridors.
Of all the things we discussed, being open and honest were integral to Johannes.
He says he would bring more accountability for the city’s finances. “People don’t mind paying taxes if they know where they’re going and how they’re being used.”
The current system is a mystery to the voters he’s talked to.
He wants to take “down that veil” to show “what’s happening behind the scenes.”
When asked if he has a campaign slogan that’s an answer to Ford’s cracked up gravy train, he says “We can do better Toronto.”
And, last, but not least, with a slogan that matches her persona and profession perfectly, Carla Ritch, also known as Barbie Bitch in her “day job” as a dominatrix, promises to “Whip this city into shape.”
To meet the new grandmother, you wouldn’t think she could hurt a fly until you see her impressive collection of nipple clips, vices and actual whips.
So how does her work as a dom for the last 20 years make her a good candidate?
“I will bring discipline, respect, and pride back to the city,” she says.
Acknowledging her unconventional line of work, she says, “Ironically, I have strong morals and I don’t budge or break” – a direct dig at Ford.
After building a successful career for herself, she says her main focus would be job creation because unemployment is “what holds the city down.”
“I feel there is a massive disconnect for the people that are either self-employed or trying to get off of welfare or trying to get themselves out of tent city,” she says.
In her view, there aren’t enough social housing programs, employment programs or assistance for single parents. While she recognizes that child support laws are federally and provincially regulated, she would work to implement city policies that would be more severe for deadbeat parents that don’t pay child support.
Speaking of delinquents, Ritch says she has some things she’d like to teach Ford.
“We’re getting worldwide attention for something that really isn’t in the political ring.”
She thinks Ford should apologize to Torontonians – even if he doesn’t mean it – for everything he’s done in the last year.
For her “It’s his attitude,” she says, “His absolute eff you attitude.”
If anyone can change that, it’s a woman whose work tools include whips, chains and leather.
That’s something this writer would like to see – a meeting of minds between a dom and a man who sees himself as indomitable.
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