Scarborough-Agincourt by-election: a primer

The good, the bad and the ugly in the race to replace disgraced former Scarborough councillor Jim Karygiannis in Ward 22

A photo of Toronto City Hall
Samuel Engelking

Despite another provincially mandated lockdown, a by-election in Scarborough-Agincourt to fill the council seat vacated by the ouster of Jim Karygiannis will go on as planned on Friday, January 15.

A statement released by the city on Wednesday says that health and safety measures put in place at voting locations “exceed the requirements for other business and services that have remained open.”

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the vote is shaping up to be a bit of a gong show. Only 2,227 people voted at advanced polls. Another 1,280 people have cast their vote via mail-in ballots.

Karygiannis, the former area councillor (and MP for the area before that), was ordered removed from office after the city’s integrity commissioner found he exceeded campaign spending limits during the 2018 election.

The controversy cemented Karygiannis’s rep as council’s resident clown, taking over that role after he was elected in 2014 from his predecessor Mike Del Grande, Rob Ford’s former budget chief, who was also known for his bluster and off-colour remarks.

The riding, whose average household income ($75,768) is more than 25 per cent less than the city average ($102,721), is characterized by a large immigrant and refugee population. Straddling the border of northeast Scarborough, it has historically faced a number of challenges, including lack of access to transit and affordable housing.

Some 27 candidates have registered to run in the by-election to replace Karygiannis. Here’s a snapshot of the challengers – at least, those who’ve taken the trouble to mount a campaign – in alphabetical order.

Rocco Achampong

About Lawyer and “community advocate.”

Priorities “Community safety” i.e.: enforcement of property standards and speeding in school safety zones.” Also, pot shops. He doesn’t like ‘em.

Other Conservative party affiliations; bit player in Rob Ford versus George Smitherman versus Joe Pantalone mayoral saw-off in 2010.  

Ahmed Sharif

About Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering.

Priorities Community engagement – he’s promising to respond to inquiries within 48 hours.

Other Member of Community Police Liaison Committee (2007-2010); part of the effort to petition against the removal of  Pharmacy bus route (2007).

David Cheng

About Business major turned social worker; attended McMaster and Columbia universities.

Priorities Free TTC and removal of TTC fare inspectors; luxury tax on homes of more than $2 million.

Other Union organizer at Columbia; worked as a geriatric and legal social worker at New York City’s Department for the Aging, Brooklyn Legal Aid Society and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.

Kevin Clarke

About Leader of Peoples Political Party (founded by Clarke in 2011).

Priorities Reform of the criminal justice system; poverty and homelessness.

Other Toronto’s most infamous perennial candidate for office; also, the city’s most recognizable (former) homeless person.

Jimmy Dagher

About High school teacher with Catholic school board; Master of Arts in International Economics and Finance.

Priorities Post-COVID economic recovery; the revival of Sheppard East LRT from Don Mills to Morningside; affordable housing.

Other “Son of hard-working immigrants;” speaks five languages.

Corey David

About Machinist; member of Socialist Action, the NDP Socialist Caucus and the Worker’s Action Movement.

Priorities Rent control; investment in public and co-op housing; free public transit; a 50 per cent cut in police budget; $6-a-day child care.

Other “Not a career politician”; worked in group homes and classrooms for people with intellectual disabilities.

Itohan Evbagharu

About Member of City of Toronto’s Night Economy external working group.

Priorities Gun violence; transit; housing; small-business.

Other Ran in Scarborough-Guildwood in the 2018 municipal election and finished with 132 votes.

Lily Fang

About Human resources professional; Bachelor degree in Business Administration.

Priorities Road safety; services for children and seniors; affordable housing.

Other Volunteered on father’s campaign who ran for the Conservatives in Spadina-Fort York in the 2019 federal election; Campaign website features Doug Ford.

Kevin Haynes

About Philosophy and government relations grad; also, the guy who blew the whistle on Karygiannis. Told the CBC in a recent interview that he was paid by a lobbying firm to canvass for several candidates during the 2018 municipal elections.

Priorities “Fear and the collapse of democracy;” transit; derelict playgrounds; garbage.

Other Called for the postponing of the by-election over COVID restrictions.

Anthony Internicola

About Former People’s Party of Canada candidate in 2019 federal election; employed as a security guard at City Hall.

Priorities Responsibility! Freedom! Fairness! (his emphasis).

Other Member of his local neighbourhood “safety team”; volunteer at the Gatehouse, home for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Renee Jagdeo

About Branksome Hall grad; second-year Urban Planning and Human Geography student at the University of Toronto.

Priorities Green and recreational space; housing; public transit; community safety; economic development.

Other At 19, looking to become the youngest person ever elected to Toronto council.

Michael Juhlihen

About A bit of a mystery.

Priorities Extension of Yonge-Sheppard subway; affordable housing (is proposing a 25 per cent rent reduction); homelessness (opposes the use of hotels in the riding to house homeless people).

Other Does not live in the riding.

Roland Lin

About Paralegal; chair of Fucan Seniors Centre.

Priorities Bridletowne Community Hub; public transit; local business improvement; services for seniors.

Other Former interpreter with the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Tony Luk

About Immigration consultant.

Priorities COVID recovery; crime; Sheppard East subway extension; funding for childcare and seniors services.

Other Boasts a number of endorsements, but all of them from notables in the 905; recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Paul Maguire

About Small business owner.

Priorities Gun crime; lower commercial rent for business; Wheel-Trans and bus rapid transit; affordable housing (supports a tax on vacant homes); transparency in government.

Other Is promising participatory budgeting and monthly online town halls with constituents.

Nick Mantas

About Karygiannis’s former chief of staff.

Priorities Community safety; development; jobs.

Other Bachelor’s degree in Economics from York University; certificate in Islamic Finance from Durham University (UK); endorsements from area’s PC MPP and one Conservative senator.

Varun Sriskanda

About Realtor; lawyer.

Priorities Crime; discontinue the use of hotels for homeless shelters; tax on vacant homes; opposes bike lanes.

Other Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Windsor.

Manna Wong

About School trustee for Scarborough-Agincourt since 2014; endorsed by Progress Toronto.

Priorities COVID recovery; affordable housing; Bridletowne Community Hub; Sheppard subway.

Other On the advisory committee of Scarborough Grace Hospital and other community agencies; work on violence against women. 

Yong Wu

About Electrical engineer; graduate of YMCA small business training program.

Priorities Public transit; community safety.

Other Commissioner of Toronto-are basketball league. 


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One response to “Scarborough-Agincourt by-election: a primer”

  1. Why did you not include Christina Liu in your story?
    There are 27 candidates in the by-election. it is a major mistake in your reporting by leaving two candidates out. One being Christina Liu, clearly a front runner according to Toronto Star stories.

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