Photo by Chloë Ellingson / The Local

With 27 percent of the vote, Parthi Kandavel is the winner of the Scarborough Southwest by-election. This is the two-term former TDSB school trustee’s second run at the role, after finishing as runner-up to incumbent Gary Crawford in last year’s municipal election.

Kandavel, who was the top candidate in the polls leading up to election day, is a teacher by profession, and ran on a broad platform mentioning affordable housing, transit, safety, and improved social services, among other commitments. He’s a significant departure from conservative councillor Crawford. As a TDSB trustee, Kandavel pushed for equity initiatives like the overhaul of the selective arts school admission process—which was found to have skewed in favour of wealthier, white students—and the introduction of more fair and accurate learning materials in schools.

Kandavel ended the night with 4,641 votes. Kevin Rupasinghe, the grassroots road safety and city building advocate endorsed by some progressive city councillors and MPPs, finished less than five percent behind Kandavel.

All results are unofficial until the election has been certified, and may be subject to a recount.

This is the ward’s third call to the polls in a year, after Crawford’s resignation from the seat to run for provincial government in July. Polling figures revealed a meagre voter turnout of just 22 percent—a lower showing than any single ward in this summer’s mayoral by-election, and a significant drop from the 38.4 percent Scarborough Southwest saw in that race. In last year’s municipal election, 32 percent of eligible voters in the ward cast a ballot.

There were some unexpected results on election night. Parent advocate Anna Sidiropolous came in a distant third, with 13 percent of the vote, though she beat current TDSB Trustee for the ward Malika Ghous by more than 700 votes; in last year’s municipal election, Ghous beat Sidiropolous to the trustee role by a little over 60 votes. Similarly, Suman Roy, declared to be in a virtual tie with Kandavel in polls leading up to the election, finished fifth, with only seven percent of the vote. Both Ghous and Roy had startling last-minute allegations made against them in the final three days of the campaign—respectively, voter fraud and philanthropic misconduct. Kandavel was part of the group raising red flags about ineligible voters ahead of election day; he had also previously filed a complaint with the integrity commissioner after former mayor John Tory made robocalls supporting incumbent Gary Crawford on the eve of the previous election.

Scarborough Southwest is one of the biggest wards in the city, and home to diverse communities and some wide economic disparities. Working-class families live in the north of the ward, and wealthy homeowners in the south along the lakefront, each community with its own priorities for the incoming local councillor. The Local has previously reported on issues of food safety, affordability, transit, and housing in the ward.