So much attention has been paid to the political successes of David Miller's first 100 days in the mayor's office, it's almost been forgotten that 14 other people found themselves with new jobs on Toronto council after last November's municipal election. Understandably, none of these councillors has managed to attain anywhere near the profile of the popular rookie chief magistrate. But without the support of most of these newcomers, Miller's first term might have gotten off to a rockier start. Here's a brief synopsis of their early performances.
SYLVIA WATSON A A Ward 14 (Parkdale-High Park): A former city solicitor, she had no difficulty making the transition from bureaucrat to politician. Has been an asset to both the budget advisory and policy and finance committees. "She's got a quiet intelligence that allows her to dissect complex issues without a lot of fanfare," says a long-time associate.
SHELLEY CARROL B+ Ward 33 (Don Valley East): This former public school trustee hit the ground running and has been one of the new council's brightest lights. A social activist from the suburbs, she's got a very urban mindset and, in the words of one of her veteran colleagues, "values the city as a whole - not just her own neighbourhood.' Plays an important role in the budget advisory and administration committees. Definitely someone to watch.
MICHAEL THOMPSON B Ward 37 (Scarborough Centre): Quickly established himself as council's most ambitious political rookie by cajoling Miller into taking action on the guns, gangs and street violence file. His in-your-face approach put him at odds with the mayor and made him a darling of the right, but he's since been publicly supportive of Miller's community safety plan and its emphasis on crime prevention.
PAULA FLETCHER B Ward 30 (Toronto-Danforth): Jack Layton's hand-picked successor underwent a political test when poisoned wieners in Withrow Park killed one dog and made others very sick. Although some residents objected to the fence the city erected, the public-school-trustee-turned-councillor stood her ground. Has been less strident than expected, which has given a boost to her overall standing.
JANET DAVIS B Ward 31 (Beaches-East York): A former education activist and union executive, she has quickly made her presence felt at City Hall as vice-chair of the administration committee. Has a tendency to become needlessly confrontational during debates - a throwback, perhaps, to her years as a CUPE negotiator - but she keeps in close touch with the needs of the old East York community that elected her.
GAY COWBOURNE C+ Ward 44 (Scarborough East): Relatively quiet for the first few months, but has proven to be both thoughtful and articulate as she gets more involved in debates. Gave spirited support to the mayor's community safety initiatives while making the point that guns and gangs are more than just a Scarborough problem. A good choice for council's policy and finance committee, and a spot on the community services committee should bring out her strengths.
GLENN De BAEREMAEKER C Ward 38 (Scarborough Centre): A passionate environmentalist from the burbs can only improve council's green outlook, but he has to broaden his horizons. So far, the guy who gained notoriety trying to save the Rouge Valley has kept a very low profile. He's capable of much more and should use his membership on council's works committee to be heard on garbage issues and the critical transportation matters he's so familiar with.
ADAM GIAMBRONE C Ward 18 (Davenport): Considered one of the young up-and-comers at City Hall, the well-spoken 26-year-old president of the federal NDP has yet to sink his teeth into any substantive issue, and his participation in debates has been limited. Has been concentrating on constituency work. Needs to broaden his horizons.
MARK GRIMES C- Ward 6 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): Ink he garnered early on for local efforts seemed to suggest great things to come, but little was heard from this councillor before last week, when he proposed the first annual City of Toronto Councillors Ball to raise money for charity (date and location of the "black-tie extravaganza" to be announced). He's been courted to join a right-wing coalition to oppose Miller, but the councillor with a background in community sports organizations has so far supported the mayor's agenda.
CLIFF JENKINS C- Ward 25 (Don Valley West): Another long-time Conservative being wooed by the right wing, this former ratepayers organizer has opted to chart an independent course. Described as thoughtful and reasonable by his colleagues, he's backed Miller on most of the key issues except for the contract awarded to firefighters. The danger: a bit of an unknown quantity so far.
BILL SAUNDERCOOK C- Ward 13 (Parkdale-High Park): In spite of his previous differences with the new mayor, has so far displayed a willingness to work with the new administration, but for mostly self-serving reasons. As one colleague put it: "Bill always gravitates toward power."
MIKE DEL GRANDE D Ward 39 (Scarborough-Agincourt): This former separate school trustee wasted little time establishing himself as council's resident contrarian. His very low opinion of the political and administrative culture at City Hall has made him flavour of the month on the Sun's op-ed pages, but his Oscar the Grouch persona has turned off even council's most conservative members.
CESAR PALACIO D Ward 17 (Davenport): The one-time exec assistant of former councillor Betty Disero has been noticed for all the wrong reasons, namely his behaviour as a landlord and alleged abuses of the city's building permit process. He's shown little interest in committee work, and his contributions to council debates are practically non-existent.
KAREN STINTZ D Ward 16 (Eglinton-Lawrence): Has appeared too willing to take her political cues from the right wing, whose political agenda seldom reflects the concerns of the voters who elected her. Needs to decide if she wants to represent her ward or ally herself with council's right-wing obstructionists. A one-term wonder?