Ward 1 ETOBICOKE NORTH
This ethnically rich enclave in the city's northwest desperately needs a rep who can make some noise, unlike Suzan Hall, its innovation-challenged hanger-on. A nonentity on council, Hall, who only mustered 30 per cent of the votes last time, can't be counted on: she favoured a fixed link to the Island Airport and voted against the MFP inquiry way back. Two intriguing folks are aiming to replace her. Andre Lucas, a law school grad, wants police to repair relationships with local minorities and favours an independent civilian police misconduct board. But we're betting on ex-journalist Sonali Verma, a volunteer public gardener and tree-planting enthusiast. True, she's an incineration buff, but she's also a public spaces booster and pushes social programs as a solution to crime.
Ward 2 ETOBICOKE NORTH
If ever city council needed relief from chronic embarrassment, this is it. Ultra-conservative buffoon Rob Ford, a painful relic of T.O.'s backwater past, mysteriously copped 80 per cent of the vote last time. Ford deems tree protection "communism," challenges city cash for AIDS awareness and opposes the pesticide ban. Then there was his fibberama following his sloshed obscenities at a Leafs game. Lucky for all, there's a dream alternative on offer. Cadigia Ali, a doctor and community health worker with a massive public service record, is founder of the Etobicoke Conflict Mediation Team and the Somali-Canadian Youth Scholarship Fund. She's talking up fair wages, a green city and an end to development that busts unique neighbourhoods. Please, Ward 2, do this for all of us.
Ward 3 ETOBICOKE CENTRE
Incumbent Doug Holyday, a fixture in council's fiscally conservative firmament, is a civic burden. He opposes car-free days, the pesticide ban, is miserable to the homeless and once even voted against childcare subsidies. Can it be worse? Among those trying to defeat him is Lillian Lan?a, a union activist committed to more social programs and the fight against downloading. But she also favours more policing and, oh dear, stiffer sentences. Realtor Ross Vaughan also wants to pump the already robust police budget, but we like his stuff on affordable housing and child poverty. Ross came second last time with 14 per cent of the vote. Let's give him a chance to rain on Holyday's parade.
Ward 4 ETOBICOKE CENTRE
Turns out incumbent Gloria Lindsay Luby was one of the largest scoopers of corporate cash on council last time round. Plenty of developers were listed as donors, as well as Island Airport mogul Robert Deluce's company. And guess what? Lindsay Luby voted for the Island Airport bridge. Here's some stuff she voted against: more cash for the TTC, traffic calming, the MFP inquiry and childcare subsidies. The saddest part is, there's no clear knight in shining armour to oust her. Anyone with a shred of political mettle could mop the floor with her, but only a couple of rookie candidates have emerged. Go for doctor Sam Mehta, an incineration foe and seniors advocate, and end the Lindsay Luby dark ages.
Ward 5 ETOBICOKE-LAKESHORE
Architect and incumbent Peter Milczyn supported John Tory for mayor but often votes with Miller. He mostly rises in council on planning - cautious about increasing density, he argues infrastructure can't handle more residents. But at budget committee he votes down more TTC funding. That's Milcyzn for you. Neither hindering nor actually helping progressive initiatives, he hasn't made much of a mark, though he keeps pumping his pet project, extending the Bloor subway west. Challenger Joseph Mignone's rallying points are community consultation on the Six Points Interchange project, better waste diversion and improved transit. While he, too, is one of those keep-spending-in-check types, better a tightwad who's pro-enviro than just a plan tightwad like Milczyn.
Ward 6 ETOBICOKE-LAKESHORE
Another benchwarmer, incumbent Mark Grimes's only claims to fame are a blustery TTC resignation after his failed coup against Howard Moscoe and flip-flopping both on a controversial skate park on wildlands after neglecting to consult and on the development of a cement plant in New Toronto that residents fought. A ward proud of its green gems deserves better. The front-runners are both pushing consultation and enviro considerations: community activist Jem Cain favours decentralized power, community policing and more transit, striking a more holistic note than Green party candidate Matthew Day; but Day has more policy punch, pushing for a light rail express between GO's Long Branch and Union stations. He's likely the best strategic bet to unseat Grimes.
Ward 7 YORK WEST
A favourite of the tabloid Sun for his hare-brained schemes and asinine one-liners, incumbent Giorgio Mammoliti is also one of the biggest, if not the biggest, corporate shills on council. He received some $69,625 in corporate donations in 2003, according to Vote Toronto, even though he ran unopposed. Securely esconsed in council's lunatic fringe, Mammoliti has relied on the Italian vote (a quarter of the ward's voters) but doesn't seem to do much for the 52 per cent of the ward that is single-parent families, making the area one of the city's neediest. Equities trader Larry Perlman, who gained a profile from his campaign against motorized mini-bikes, is promising to return 20 per cent of his council salary if elected. But it's Sandra Romano Anthony, a nutritionist and educator with a history of community activism in the ward, especially in visible-minority and poor communities, who offers a real breath of fresh air.
Ward 8 YORK WEST
As in Ward 7 next door, residents here need another four years of their do-nothing incumbent like they need a kick in the head. Less than a bit player on council, Peter Li Preti's one notable accomplishment in a lacklustre 16-year political career came way back in 89 with his involvement in Project Rebirth, a conference focusing on the special needs of Jane-Finch. While he claims to support affordable housing, runaway condo development in the ward has put added strain on already stressed municipal and social services. School board administrator Garry Green has been working to save Norfinch long-term care centre and get Internet service for disadvantaged youth at Driftwood Public School, and has John Sewell's blessing. But Anthony Perruzza, who has represented the area as NDP MPP, North York councillor and trustee and is pushing licensing of apartments, hydro and property tax breaks for seniors, and improved public transit, is the best hope.
Ward 9 YORK CENTRE
Long-time incumbent Maria Augimeri has a spotty voting record but has nevertheless finagled a spot on the city's policy and finance committee and the mayor's community safety panel. She has NDP credentials (her husband is a former NDP MPP) and uses the party's machine to get re-elected, but she voted for the Island Airport bridge and has been known to miss controversial showdowns (like the extension of the Eucan monster bin contract and the St. Clair right-of-way). She caught considerable flak for voting against housing for homeless youth in her ward. Augimeri spends a little too much time hosting visits from Italian parliamentarians, and needs a wake-up call. Her only challenger, building trades school owner Vlad Protsenko, is promising more rec programs for youth and monthly town halls. How long can area residents keep holding their noses when they vote? Maybe one more term.
Ward 10 YORK CENTRE
Octogenarian Michael Feldman, a former Mel lackey, is, bizarrely, one of Mayor Miller's most important right-wing allies, serving as his deputy mayor and on the board of the Toronto Economic Development Corporation. True, Feldman supports a fixed link to the Island Airport and voted against the pesticide ban. But he voted with the mayor on the St. Clair right of way, the banning of corporate and union political contributions and opposing extension of the controversial Eucan garbage bin contract. Of six candidates vying for his seat, one is pushing volunteer patrols to police the streets, another wants to fight gridlock by building underpasses. Only Magda Berkovits, a past prez of the Ontario Women's Liberal Commission, is credible. She's pushing free TTC for seniors, a subway loop linking the Yonge and Spadina lines and more police. It's Feldman for old time's sake. If the mayor likes him, he can't be all that bad.
Ward 11 YORK SOUTH-WESTON
Former York mayor and incumbent Frances Nunziata just seems confused. She also has a tendency to vote against daycare and transit in one of the city's poorer regions, and hates streetcars on principle. Challenger Paul Ferreira, former head of the NDP's LGBT committee, brings considerable energy to the race along with a groundswell of support garnered through his opposition to the hated private Pearson rail link and a tenacious bid to unseat MP Alan Tonks. Ferreira is environmentally savvy, and his social-program approach to crime makes more sense than Nunziata's enforcement-only stance. Lose a dead weight and gain a progressive with one vote.
Ward 12 YORK SOUTH-WESTON
Couch cushion Frank Di Giorgio talks progressive but votes conservative, when he bothers to do either. After nine years, he still obviously has no plan. A ward with some of the city's highest levels of poverty deserves better than this. Joe Renda, former school board employee and library trustee, runs again on a platform of a safer ward with more services. But youth worker and anti-poverty activist Keith Sweeney knows the need first-hand and offers, in addition to progressive crime prevention policies, the possibility that York's large visible minority community could finally have representation on council. Go, Sweeney.
Ward 13 PARKDALE-HIGH PARK
Incumbent Bill Saundercook, a Liberal, is one of those eloquent but not entirely useful centrists who bends right and whose best moments are probably behind him. While he pioneered recycling and the green bin, he freaked out enviros by backing the shipping of T.O. trash to Kirkland Lake's Adams Mine. Saundercook has given what he has to give. Time to move on to Greg Hamara, founder of the Bloor West Village Residents Association, a former manager at the World Wildlife Fund and a key player in the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Hamara, who has the nod from the Labour Council, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo and Lib MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, stresses naturalization of the lakeside, TTC expansion and green city initiatives. Give this guy a voice on council.
Ward 14 PARKDALE-HIGH PARK
What a calamity. While some wards are starving for solid candidates, Ward 14 has three great lefties knocking heads. Let's not let this happen again. Former councillor and local activist David White is leveraging his able campaigning to stop the Front Street Extension and preserve the waterfront. But Rowena Santos, an expert in corporate responsibility, also champions lakefront protection, green city initiatives and community involvement, and is backed by NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo. In this sad splitsville scenario, David Miller and Councillors Sandra Bussin and Paula Fletcher are backing Gord Perks, one of the city's green treasures. A former Greenpeacer and now Toronto Environmental Alliance heavy, Perks is credited with helping to do in Lib premier David Peterson via his dogged interruptions at 1990 campaign rallies. As we said, this is a bummer, but we're going Perks. We need a hard-headed enviro steeled by two decades of green immersion to keep the focus in a much-distracted council.
Ward 15 EGLINTON-LAWRENCE
What to do with a transit advocate who also supports the Front Street Extension? Howard Moscoe can be difficult. His old-school politics rub up against good taste in debates, and his focus on behind-the-scenes slogging is sometimes hard to reconcile with transparency. But make no mistake, he gets more work done than anyone else. His shrewdness and attention to detail make him a consummate problem-solver. He's never shied away from progressive causes, from employment equity to gay rights and transit passes for the poor. Finally, no one is more loyal to the TTC rider than Moscoe. Yeah, he's a loose cannon, but we couldn't do without him.
Ward 16 EGLINTON-LAWRENCE
If only Karen Stintz would use her powers for good. The rookie is skilled at sizing up an issue and extracting info from stacks of reports. But she's mostly employed her talents to attack David Miller and allies, and her willingness to use all possible - even contradictory - arguments makes her seem a gun for hire. She's strong on calling for more cautious development and seems to care about transit, but her grudge against the Commission gets in the way, and her contempt for the poor is clear. Financial consultant Charm Darby's more holistic platform builds on Stintz's concern about transit and bad development, with an added focus on poverty - minus all the vendettas. Choose Darby.
Ward 17 DAVENPORT
Incumbent Cesar Palacio didn't take long to ally himself with council's right wing - although this councillor who talks much and says little hasn't really done anything except oppose the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way at every turn. Contrast spitfire streetcar supporter and long-time activist Alejandra Bravo. A former staffer for Joe Mihevc and labour organizer, she was barely beaten by Palacio last time. With grooming by NDP activists since, she offers the energy this less-than-affluent but vibrant west-side community needs for the recognition it deserves.
Ward 18 DAVENPORT
Though we're aware of complaints about incumbent Adam Giambrone's record on responding to constituents (and the fact that this career-focused councillor can be a bit eager to please), his deft work facilitating collaboration between community and city staff at ward jewel Dufferin Grove Park proves his progressive politics. As well, as chair of the Bellamy committee on lobbyists at City Hall and a level-headed presence on the TTC, he's established himself as an able moderator and fast learner. Good that Liberal challenger Simon Wookey is there to hold his feet to the fire, but his accusations that Giambrone "divides' the community with his park work only paint Wookey as woefully out of touch. Return Giambrone with confidence.
Ward 19 TRINITY-SPADINA
No one can beat Joe Pantalone - and what kind of person would even try? One of the longest-serving and most effective members of council, Pantalone is the city's tree advocate, bless him, and chair of the Roundtable on the Environment, not to mention deputy mayor. His voting record is superb and reflects his decades-long efforts for a beautiful and equal-opportunity city. His only weakness is his bizarre loyalty to the idea of a Front Street Extension, which greatly freaks the green types. It's Joe big-time here - but keep those Extension protest e-mails a comin'.
Ward 20 TRINITY-SPADINA
Another unfathomable schlemozzle. What was Adam Vaughan thinking when he leapt in to scoop up the fruit of years of community-building in the area by the NDP's Dan Heap, Jack Layton, Olivia Chow and the sadly departed Dan Leckie? Sure, the platform of the former Citytv reporter is delightfully full of creative solutions: car-free zones, mixed housing, green spaces, TTC investment. And, yes, he'd be an asset on council, dissing thoughtless and unaffordable over-development. But NDP candidate Helen Kennedy, former Olivia Chow assistant, has the same program, more experience and an org of strong NDPers around her to make sure she doesn't fly off one day and recommend gating laneways. Find the telly reporter another ward for the next round; meanwhile, mark it up for Kennedy.
Ward 21 ST. PAUL's
It's not clear what former mayor (and anti-right-of-way warrior) John Sewell thinks he's bringing to this race other than contempt for Miller, since incumbent Joe Mihevc is easily one of council's most active, thoughtful and effective members. Chair of the budget and community services committees, Mihevc proves "lefty" can also mean "fiscally responsible," and his willingness to take stands on principle is matched by his ability to defend them in detail. Undeniably a transit advocate, he's also shown the desire to understand the issues of the poor and homeless. And on top of that, his personable style trumps Sewell's sense of entitlement.
Ward 22 St. PAUL'S
He can be a curmudgeon at times, but Michael Walker is a principled councillor who will fight development and look out for the rights of low-income residents in his fairly affluent ward. His record does have a couple of bumps: he voted against the St. Clair right-of-way and more tree planting. He's reliable on everything else, including ditching the Island Airport bridge, banning pesticides and opposing those awful megabins. While his untested opposition is saying the right things, Walker's already doing them - making him like a slightly frayed but always reliable pair of hiking boots.
Ward 23 WILLOWDALE
Although he once chaired the school board, whose budget is tons bigger than council's, long-time incumbent John Filion sometimes gives the impression that he's just going through the motions. Perhaps he's become a little gun-shy since he charged that cops were intimidating members of the police services board and someone leaked his nasty divorce to the Sun. We'd say it's time for the boot, but the alternatives aren't exactly inspiring. Andrew Miller, a young PC in the cut-some-more mould, is promising a freeze on property taxes and more cops, even though the ward has one of the city's lowest crime rates. The other main contender, Mohammed Choudhary is proposing a bike lane on Finch as well as more TTC funding, but also wants to build a bridge at Yonge and Sheppard to deal with gridlock. Yeah, right. Filion's performance has been lacking, but that he won by a staggering 11,000 votes last time out clearly suggests he's still very popular and deserves another chance to prove himself.
Ward 24 WILLOWDALE
Despite once serving as budget chief, former Mel suck-up David Shiner has demonstrated a complete inability to work with Miller's crew. As dogmatic as conservatives come, Shiner has resigned himself to focusing on local issues when he's not playing obstructionist, but even here he's invited controversy for trying to push through undesirable developments to please his developer friends. Shiner's got to go, but the pickin's here are slim. A former beauty queen and political novice aren't much to build on. For our money, media consultant Ed Shiller, a Liberal, represents at least a start. He's pushing neighbourhood-friendly development, recyling for apartments and businesses, and shelving Island Airport expansion plans.
Ward 25 DON VALLEY WEST
Races here are usually dominated by well-to-do, middle-aged white men, and this time is no different, with an investment banker and sports marketing exec both promising tax freezes and a stop to wasteful spending. Yawn. The exception is English teacher and author John Blair, a member of both the Evergreen and Suzuki Foundations. He's challenging incumbent Cliff Jenkins over a controversial plan to demolish the Don Mills Centre, considered a landmark among heritage advocates. Jenkins came to council as a first-termer looking and talking like a conservative - he does, after all, represent the most affluent ward in T.O. But with the exception of Eucan's out-of-scale garbage bin contract, he's voted with the mayor on everything from election finance reform to the St. Clair right-of-way. Jenkins, by a hair.
Ward 26 DON VALLEY WEST
They're going to need foolscap pages as ballots in Jane Pitfield's old ward. With no incumbent, 15 candidates are trying snatch the Don Valley West riding. There's plenty of partisan representation here, with John Parker being the most infamous for his time with Mike Harris's PCs. While he's battling fellow right-winger Natalie Maniates, who is against the express bus route on the Bayview Extension, cast your vote for David Thomas. Thomas, a Sri Lankan Roman Catholic, ran as the NDP candidate in Don Valley West in 2004 and 06. Some of the things he hopes to achieve: converting government housing to co-ops, establishing welcome houses for new immigrants and stalling privatization and contracting out at City Hall.
Ward 27 TORONTO CENTRE-ROSEDALE
After taking over the ward from Jack Layton in 1991, Kyle Rae has never looked back. And why should he? Rae has led the way for gay rights and managed one of the most diverse parts of town by balancing pressures from development interests with matters of social urgency. He's had his share of troubles with accusations of going soft on condos, but he's managed to vote the right way when it comes to all the big stuff. Many will try to slag him, but none will best him. This is Rae's ward. Let's keep it that way.
Ward 28 TORONTO CENTRE-ROSEDALE
Pam McConnell has one tough ward to handle. Talk about conflicting interests: poor folk, homeowners, the largest number of housing co-ops in the country - you name it. Yet she still manages to keep everything from exploding. She has a fine voting record and consistently delivers for her constituents. Best of all, she has expanded her positive work to the rest of the city. Look no further than the fab job she's done on the police services board pushing civilian oversight and investigation of racial profiling. We have her to thank for dumping chief Julian Fantino for more people-friendly Bill Blair. In this race, ignore the imitators who mimic her words on housing and safety. McConnell is the real deal.
Ward 29 TORONTO-DANFORTH
The people who keep voting for former Mel Lastman-era deputy mayor Case Ootes must understandably but incorrectly equate bluster with action. The truth is that this famed filibusterer has been going it ever more alone. Bitter much? Over this increasingly isolated grouch, we'd love to recommend activist and engaging orator Hamish Wilson, but strategy favours the more electable and David Miller-backed community-services activist Diane Alexopoulos. She matches pragmatic concern over property tax assessments with a call for transit, green spaces and crime prevention through social service and education funding.
Ward 30 TORONTO-DANFORTH
Incumbent Paula Fletcher has been criticized for some of her development enthusiasms, like film district megaprojects and the demolition of the Riverdale Hospital round building. Still, she's a grassroots workhorse with an eye for detail. While pushing for bike lanes and spearheading council opposition to the Portlands Energy Centre, she's also led less glamorous battles on the contract between rec centres and Pepsi, and nixing front-yard parking pads. Her affability, mixed with her no-bullshit tone, is welcome encouragement for lefties to call it like they see it. Give Fletcher a mega-mandate.
Ward 31 BEACHES-EAST YORK
Incumbent Janet Davis has been a welcome presence on both city and community council. After a slow start learning the ropes, she's turned herself into someone who's willing to push the envelope. Her support for public childcare and education facilities has been a driving force behind council's nascent pressure tactics to keep federal funding. She has fought to keep services like the East York Civic Centre open and meaningful, and has kept up a push for reduced reliance on city-fostered street advertising when all others were resigned to it. She obviously views council as it should be - an activist body working on our behalf.
Ward 32 BEACHES-EAST YORK
Councillor since 1997 and deputy mayor under David Miller, Sandra Bussin's no-nonsense approach isn't exactly invigorating, but her straight-ahead support for public services, transit and an environmentally sound waterfront (we will have to do something about her Front Street Extension views, though) make her a reliable ally. Her constituency work is known to be strong, and hers is a consistent voice of reason in support of the mayor's better initiatives.
Ward 33 DON VALLEY EAST
By all accounts, Shelley Carroll has been the most impressive of the rookie crop of councillors, chairing the mayor's round table on children and youth and education (she's a former school board co-chair) and working her way up to chair of works committee as well as a seat on the budget advisory committee. Carroll won by a mere 850 votes in 2003. This time out she faces Zane Caplan, whose brother David is Liberal MPP for the area and whose mother, Elinor, represented the area federally and provincially for some 20 years. Funny thing is, it's Carroll who's boasting an endorsement from David Caplan on her website. Other notable Carroll backers include former city budget chief David Soknacki. Take Carroll, hands down.
Ward 34 DON VALLEY EAST
Part of council's obstructionist right-wing rat pack, Tory incumbent Denzil Minnan-Wong takes credit for spearheading some dubious initiatives, the anti-postering bylaw and the homeless count among them. He's also the chap who kicked up a stink when the TCC single-sourced its purchase of subway cars from Bombardier to save jobs in Thunder Bay. A Lastman leftover who's seen his political prospects wither, Minnan-Wong seems content to chalk up a few more years on council to bump up his severance package. Also-rans George Maxwell and Gary Walsh are once again taking up valuable space. Challenger Atiya Ahmed's campaign is hardly visible. The only one offering a change here is Liberal Susan Salek, who's making the concerns of seniors and children a priority (she's a former special needs worker at two area schools) and has the endorsement of the Labour Council.
Ward 35 SCARBOROUGH SOUTHWEST
Thirteen candidates are battling for this seat vacated by Gerry Altobello, among them former music industry exec Adrian Heaps, who finished a respectable 2,000 votes behind Altobello in 2003. Crime prevention and property tax relief rank high among his priorities, but he also favours a proposal requiring stores pumping A/C to keep their doors closed on smog days. But Michelle Berardinetti is receiving the most attention, for all the wrong reasons. She's the wife of local Grit MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti, and there's a well-oiled Lib machine behind her, but her support for incineration and call to enforce bylaws against subsidized housing carry a Tory whiff. Perennial also-ran Worrick Russell is attractive for his minority roots. Then there's affordable housing advocate Dan Harris, who's run for the NDP in the past three federal elections. He's pushing public transit, including the redevelopment of the Victoria Park and Warden subway stations, and more lighting to boost park use. Harris would provide a much-needed urban sensibility in the wilds of Scarborough.
Ward 36 SCARBOROUGH SOUTHWEST
It must be hard being Brian Ashton, who has held this waterfront ward for 20-odd years and has rarely if ever had to fight off a credible challenge. A bit of a political chameleon, Ashton has voted with the progressives on all major issues except a proposal to ban corporate or union political donations. Transit and development, in particular the future of the Cliffside strip along the lakefront and the eroding Scarborough Bluffs, are the big issues. Challenger Ron Sonier, founder of the Cliffcrest-Cliffside Community Association, is a co-op housing advocate. Eddy Gasparotto, a former city staffer, is proposing building a casino to pay for subway expansion. More comic relief comes courtesy of Greg Crompton, who ran next door in Scarborough Centre in 2003 and managed a paltry 553 votes. He's encouraging Ashton to run for mayor. We wouldn't go that far. But Ashton's definitely the class of the field here.
Ward 37 SCARBOROUGH CENTRE
As the only black person on city council, you'd think incumbent Michael Thompson would be a force for building bridges. Instead, he's advocated racial profiling to deal with gun violence - not the kind of crap voters in this multi-ethnic ward need to hear. But Thompson fancies himself mayoral material - and it seems he's been listening to the hype being fed him by political movers interested only in putting a black face on crime issues. Unlike in 2003, there's no clear progressive alternative to Thompson this time around. Only James Kallmeyer, a former city roads department employee, is mounting any kind of campaign. And it's mostly about issues close to Thompson's heart: taxes, clamping down on wasteful spending and exploring waste reduction alternatives (read incineration). Speaking of incineration, maybe voters here should simply burn their ballots in protest.
Ward 38 SCARBOROUGH CENTRE
Great things were expected of Rouge-Valley-defender-turned-rookie-councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, but he's been swallowed up by the politics of policing in his ward, at one stage even endorsing a plan to ban youth from the Scarborough Civic Centre square. His vote to extend the Eucan garbage bin contract was a shocker for an enviro who should have an appreciation for the ecology of public spaces. He counts the shutting down of one "dangerous' nightclub and bringing back the Scarborough flag scrapped after amalgamation among his accomplishments. Not exactly stuff to write home about. On the positive side, he boasts the backing of the Labour Council and the union representing city workers. Kirk Jensen, former prez of the Caravan multicultural festival, has a proven track record with minorities but he's not mounting a meaningful campaign. Dan Sandor, a cop wannabe (he's a graduate of civilian police college and a member of the police community liaison committee), is pushing a safety plan although overall crime in the ward is down. The last thing this multi-ethnic area needs is someone pumping the politics of fear. Take De Baeremaeker. He's still learning; we're banking on better things ahead.
Ward 39 SCARBOROUGH CENTRE
Scarborough, like Etobicoke, has its share of nutbar politicians, and none is nuttier than council incumbent Mike Del Grande. Like some Flintstones character out of the Stone Age, this former Catholic school board trustee symbolizes everything that's wrong with the level of debate at City Hall. He first won notoriety for distributing flyers in the 2003 race that referred to Guyana-born rival Sharene Shaw's "foreign' credentials. And, of course, who can forget those comments bemoaning Chinese immigration into the ward - odd behaviour for someone who's himself the eldest son of immigrants. Pit bulls and pot are Del Grande's pet issues in an area struggling with a shortage of community services and the settlement needs of newcomers. Former city manager John Wong is the only candidate willing to work with the mayor and is pumping much-needed social services like jobs for young people, daycare spaces and senior supports. Wong's the right choice.
Ward 40 SCARBOROUGH AGINCOURT
We thought he was an unmitigated disaster in 2003, and Norm Kelly did little to prove us wrong, voting against progressives on council on stopping a fixed link to the airport, the pesticide ban and banning corporate and union political donations. He favours invoking the authority given under the Mental Health Act to get homeless people off the streets. Kelly's out of touch in more ways than one. First- timer George Pappas is pushing the crime button and wants the city to selll advertising on street corners to generate revenue to keep property taxes down. We're going for Sunny Eren, a board member of Streetlights, an org that helps women out of prostitution. Eren's platform focuses on reducing poverty and helping apartment dwellers become homeowners.
Ward 41 SCARBOROUGH-ROUGE RIVER
With mediocre Bas Balkissoon leaving to become provincial member, this ward is wide open. Ten candidates have tossed their names in the hat. They include Balkissoon's equally mediocre candidate friend, Chin Lee, whose platform is heavy on development and light on environment. The real winner here is David Robertson, who ran for the federal NDP and spent 13 years at Etobicoke council and gets the Labour Council's nod. The Chinese community should note that he writes for the Chinese North America Times, supports increasing immigrant settlement services and hopes to prevent the consolidation of the Scarborough Grace Hospital.
Ward 42 SCARBOROUGH-ROUGE RIVER
It's got to be hard to shake up this Scarborough snoozefest, but as it stands, ho-hum incumbent Raymond Cho, who copped 70 per cent of the vote last time, still looks like the best choice. He's never going to get up and lead the charge, but last term he voted right on everything but the megabins. The sad part about Ward 42 is that there's a lack of sterling candidates who'll say more than the tiresome "must fight crime' and "will listen to residents." Oh, well, here's hoping he keeps toeing the line for Miller.
Ward 43 SCARBOROUGH EAST
Paul Ainslie is made for politics, but the wrong kind - the kind where he gets appointed to something and thinks he's earned it. Ainslie, Soknacki's ex-EA, took over from Bas Balkissoon in Ward 41, and now he's telling everyone in Ward 43 to "return" him to power, though it's really unclear what he stands for. Well, you don't have to. There's John Laforet, a Liberal with a marshmellowy program, and Mujeeb Khan and Glenn Kitchen, neither of whom has been active in the area. Amarjeet Chhabra, a former member of the city's Youth Cabinet, winner of Scarborough City Idol and an NDPer, is certainly interesting. But we're going for Abdul Patel, a former Ontario Human Rights Commissioner whose creds are long and impressive. We're talking plenty of NGO work, anti-racism activism, conflict mediation, plus he helped found the East York Tenants Association and the Thorncliffe Park Tenants Council and is endorsed by NDP MPP Michael Prue. A vote for Patel is a vote for reasoned activism over heaven knows what.
Ward 44 SCARBOROUGH EAST
Folks here thought they'd seen the end of Ron Moeser, who held the ward until Gay Cowbourne took it last time. But the right-winger, who had a bad habit of passing on most important council votes, is back like a rash you can't shake, vowing to keep taxes below inflation, just like Jane Pitfield. It's a wild journey finding alternatives here. Donald Blair boasts the support of right-winger Peter Kent; Richard Ross wants, ugh, tougher crime laws. Kevin Richardson rants about the "socialistic housing experiments of the NDP." Wishy-washy Kevin Wellington urges equipping shelters so the homeless can phone their loved ones, and backs incineration. Which leads us to Diana Hall, former EA to Cowbourne. She supports incineration, too, and is pretty mushy-middle, but in these here parts that's a positive. She's at least not a tax revolter and is oddly endorsed both by right-of-centre Karen Stintz and lefty Sandra Bussin. Take a leap in bad circumstances - go for Hall.