Toronto Star pans Ward 5 incumbents

The Toronto Star Editorial Board has made its quadrennial candidate endorsements for Toronto’s newly shrunken wards. The Editorial Board is once again unimpressed with the current incumbents. They bluntly state, “Frank Di Giorgio and Frances Nunziata, should be sent to pasture.”. Four years ago,  The Star said of Frances Nunziata, “Painfully ineffective in recent years, she has been one of council’s most complacent Ford followers.”.  2014’s opposition to Frances Nunziata, Jose Garcia and Dory Chalhoub failed to get their campaigns off the ground. While Mr. Chalhoub successfully argued that Ms. Nunziata had done little to help her constituents, his and Mr. Garcia’s rightward leanings put them on a par with her politically. Despite endorsements from the Star (and Weston Web – go figure) Mr. Garcia and Mr. Chalhoub placed a distant second and third respectively.

This time there are two strong candidates among those opposing the incumbents and both are left-leaning.

The Star’s Board has given the nod to Lekan Olawoye as their 2018 choice for councillor stating, “His work on talent development at MaRS and numerous community organizations make him well placed to constructively address the issues facing youth and marginalized communities.”. The other local candidate, Chiara Padovani has built an impressive campaign and will no doubt take issue with the Star’s pick.

The good news for them is that the vote will be somewhat split between the two incumbents. The bad news is that the anti-incumbent vote will also be spread between multiple candidates, thus diluting any movement for change. That’s why all candidates will be working hard to ensure that as many people as possible get out to the polls next Monday.

Voter participation in 2014 was 53% in old Ward 11 and 55% in old Ward 12. There is plenty of room to improve as some Toronto wards had a voter turnout of over 70% that year. This compared to an average of 60.4% in Toronto as a whole.  A similarly low turnout in Ward 5 this year will probably result in one of the incumbents being sent back to city hall.

What to make of Mainstreet’s poll results

While neither the local nor mayor’s race is decided, unless some dramatic changes occur before polling day on October 22nd, the following scenarios are likely.

Toronto’s new ward map. From City of Toronto. (Click to enlarge.)

As Adam has pointed out, Mainstreet Research issued a poll that reflects the voting intentions of 593 residents of Ward 5 (York South Weston) on the 24th and 25th September. Among decided and leaning voters, the support is as follows:

From Scribd.com Click to enlarge.

Mainstreet’s poll methodology seems exemplary; for example, a large number of calls were made to a variety of cell and land line phones and at various times of two survey days.  The margin of error is 4.1% which still indicates a cast iron lead for Frances Nunziata over all other candidates.

The results must be demoralizing for candidates Lekan Olawoye and Chiara Padovani . The candidates with their dynamic young teams have worked hard to expand their bases in the respective halves of York South Weston. They have been outmuscled by the star power (i.e. name recognition) of the two incumbents, only one of whom will be councillor. While it is notoriously difficult to unseat an incumbent Toronto councillor, Olawoye and Padovani can look for hope from three sources:

  1. There will be other elections – sometimes it takes a few tries before voters learn your name.
  2. Your focus on certain issues during the campaign may have moved people’s (and possibly the winning candidate’s) opinions.
  3. This is valuable feedback – try other tactics to raise your profile.

As for Frank Di Giorgio; to win he needs to build up his support in the 50+ age groups in YSW. If he loses, he won’t be the first big name to be defeated by Ms Nunziata.

Mayor’s Race:

Of the four major candidates, Mainstreet’s latest poll shows stodgy incumbent, John Tory snoozing his way to victory in spite of his flawed and lacklustre mayoralty. Toronto poverty, crime and congestion levels continue to rise under his watch while he concentrates on his three main objectives; austerity, low property taxes and re-election. The mayor is so confident, he recently took a pass on a transit debate, instead choosing a cocktail fundraiser with Toronto’s moneyed and business elite. His abysmal SmartTrack plan was probably the reason for wanting to avoid scrutiny on that difficult topic.

Former Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat’s campaign has failed to gain traction as her policies differ only marginally from those of the incumbent. Her insider knowledge of where the bodies are buried at City Hall has been kept under wraps so far. In policy areas where Ms. Keesmaat does differ from John Tory, she is unable to effectively state why her position is better.

Local candidate Saron Gebresellassi has acquitted herself forcefully in debates and offers some starkly new ideas to address issues such as poverty in a big city like ours. She needs to keep pushing the two mainstream candidates off their comfort zones.

Sarah Climenhaga is another candidate with West Toronto connections and one who has lived a fascinating life full of valuable experiences. Like the other candidates, this is her first shot at the Mayor’s job.

Sadly, becoming mayor costs a lot of money. Mayor Tory spent almost $3 million to get elected in 2014. This is beyond the reach of most candidates; even the well-connected Ms. Keesmaat. It looks like we’ll be stuck with John Tory for another four years.

Last of all; most people usually don’t vote in civic elections here in YSW. The people who do tend to be in the older age groups. The folks at American media production company Nail Communications produced this mock ad geared to the mid-terms in the U.S. but speaks volumes about the demographics of voting in both countries.

Poll shows Nunziata far in the lead

Frances Nunziata has a huge lead in Ward 5, according to Mainstreet Research.  Nunziata is supported by about 40% of decided voters. Frank Di Diorgio, the other incumbent, trails her by 10%, and the new challengers, Lekan Olawoye (7%) and Chiara Padovani (4%), are far behind.

18% of decided voters will be supporting one of the other candidates, and 35% of voters have not yet decided whom they will vote for.

 

From Mainstreet Research
From Mainstreet Research

Mainstreet Research robo-called 593 residents on cell and landlines. The survey was not paid for by any candidate, party, or company; Mainstreet foot the bill.

The politics of water

The Toronto Community Housing building at 5 Bellevue went without water this weekend, and politicians were quick to respond. Frances Nunziata, Chiara Padovani, and Lekan Olawoye each had a role, and all of it played out on Twitter.

Padovani’s and Olawoye’s teams came with bottled water for angry residents, and Padovani called for the Lions’ Pool to be opened so people could shower.

Meanwhile, Frances Nunziata was working behind the scenes.

Our office was made aware of the situation at 5 Bellevue Crescent on Saturday and immediately contacted Toronto Community Housing (TCH) to ensure that water was being provided to residents, and that staff were onsite to assist vulnerable residents by bringing water to their units and checking on their well-being.

When it was stated yesterday that the water may not be back on until today, Councillor Nunziata contacted senior management from TCH to express the urgency in getting repairs made so that residents would have access to water. …

As a result of these actions, last night the water was up and running again, one day earlier than TCH had originally promised.

With respect to Ms. Padovani’s comments – Councillors do not have the authority to open a pool. That being said, if there was reason to believe the disruption to water service was going to last longer than it did, Councillor Nunziata would have contacted the appropriate staff to make arrangements. She has done this in the past

And her tweet was a zinger:

I love it. This round goes to Nunziata.

The Humber building gets under way.

Today, on a beautiful warm September morning, a crowd gathered to witness the first stage in the building of The Humber, an Options For Homes condominium – a symbolic demolition of the existing buildings on the site. The location at 10 Wilby Crescent is on a spectacular site above the Humber and across from Weston GO Station. OFH, a non-profit corporation has constructed many such buildings in the GTA.

Options For Homes CEO Heather Tremain talks about the approval process for 10 Wilby.

A fair number in the crowd were future residents; I spoke to two excited purchasers; Cheyenne who will be moving from another part of Weston and Freddie, moving from North York. Both have bought 2 bedroom units in the building and are happy that they can purchase at a reasonable cost in such a natural location while being close to transit links.

Options for Homes CEO, Heather Tremain thanked Councillor Frances Nunziata for smoothing out obstacles to get the project under way and also for helping create a new parkette between The Humber and the existing Hickory Tree condos. It takes a lot of attention to detail to get a building project off the ground and this one was no exception.

Afterwards, a token demolition of existing buildings on the site took place.

Councillor Frances Nunziata reacts as Weston Village Residents’ Association Chair Dave Bennett takes an over-enthusiastic swing.

Heather Tremain tells me that the project is already 40% sold and upcoming sales events are heavily subscribed so it’s likely that most units will be sold by November. Money made from the sale of homes goes towards building new projects and subsidizing future homeowners.

One minor quibble; the city of Toronto wants to encourage affordable housing yet charged this project (run by a non-profit corporation) $850,000 in development fees. That seems wrong.

Nunziata opens campaign headquarters

Frances Nunziata opened her campaign headquarters this weekend.

Nunziata faces three competitors: right-leaning Frank Di Giorgio, another  incumbent; and the left-leaning Chiara Padovani and Lekan Olawoye, from wards 11 and 12 respectively.

 


Edit: I was wrong. An earlier version of this post said that Nunziata hadn’t opened offices in the past. I was wrong. My apologies.

It’s back to Ward 11 – for now.

From the Toronto Star.

Premier Doug Ford’s surprise re-alignment of city wards from 47 to 25 seats has been kicked into touch by a Superior Court judge this morning after a challenge by a group of concerned citizens. The judge cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and called  his legislation unconstitutional. He made it clear that Ford’s actions were unjustifiable. No doubt Mr. Ford will be railing at ‘elite’ judges this morning but he now finds himself in a serious quagmire with his latest legal setback. If he doesn’t appeal, there’s just enough time for the election to go ahead with 47 seats instead of Ford’s 25 that would have matched provincial ridings. These 47 seats were the result of much consultation and expense to better reflect increased populations in the downtown core. The 47 seat count is likely to produce several more left-wing councillors as downtowners tend to vote in that direction.

If Ford appeals, either the October 22 poll date will have to be delayed – a decision will take weeks – or we’ll keep the original date and hold a 25-seat election. Either way, an appeal will be a disruptive and constitutionally risky event.

What’s a premier to do? My guess is that he will forego the appeal but ask his lawyers to look for ways to sideline Council’s future decisions. One idea already floated is to expropriate important City assets such as our subway system.

Locally, Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata will not be facing Ward 12’s Frank Di Giorgio and Ms. Nunziata’s main challenger, Chiara Padovani will now be able to focus her finances and resources on our section of York South-Weston.  On the other side of the water, in Greater Weston™, it’s back to being in Ward 2, most likely represented by (barring an apocalyctic event)  Premier Ford’s nephew Mike.