About the Ward
Located in downtown Toronto, between Dundas Street and Lake Ontario, Spadina-Fort York is one of the most contested races in the municipal election. With former councillor Joe Cressy not seeking re-election, 12 candidates are running to take his place. One of the fastest growing wards in the city, Spadina-Fort York is fairly young and educated, with the median age listed at 32.4 and 79 percent of residents holding a post-secondary education.
Where the Candidates Stand
Of the 12 candidates in the running, Ausma Malik, a former TDSB trustee for the area, is considered the frontrunner, but there are some other candidates with a strong shot. April Engleberg came second to Cressy in the 2018 election, and is running again. She made headlines when she floated the idea of building a lift bridge to the islands.
The matrix below provides a head-to-head comparison of where council candidates stand on key issues. The Local combed through city council records to review all the decisions made over the last four years and identify a dozen votes that are the most telling of where councillors stand on different issues: homelessness, transportation, housing, policing, taxes, and the environment. We then sent a survey to candidates asking them how they would have voted on those motions.
Nine candidates responded to The Local’s survey, including both Malik and Engleberg.
Here Are the Takeaways
- Perhaps unsurprisingly for such a young ward, most of the candidates who responded to The Local’s survey supported progressive causes. Four of the eight candidates polled—Malik, Igor Samardzic, Andrei Zodian, and Kyle Enslen—said they support raising property taxes to fund a TTC fare freeze.
- Rocco Achampong, a former PC candidate, voted against property tax increases. He commented that he doesn’t think taxes should be raised given Toronto’s affordability problems—instead, he has proposed a congestion fee charged to non-residents and non-business owners commuting to Spadina-Fort York for work.
- Every single candidate polled by The Local was united on one issue: housing. They all support more affordable units for Housing Now developments, and banning above guideline rent increases for units in Housing Now.
- Similarly, all candidates supported hiking the industrial wastewater surcharge.
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City Council Candidates
Rocco Achampong is a lawyer and a former PC candidate. Achampong is the child of Ghanian immigrants and a U of T and Osgoode Hall alumnus. Most recently, he ran in the Ward 22 — Scarborough-Agincourt by-elections in 2021, placing fourth overall. He previously ran for mayor in 2010 and placed sixth. Achampong was also a contender for a seat in Ward 13 during the 2018 municipal elections before officially withdrawing. After the Ontario government moved to redraw Toronto’s ward boundaries in 2018, he applied for an injunction at the Ontario Superior Court to delay the cuts to city council. Achampon’s platform touches on accessible child care, increased green spaces, clean streets, heritage building preservation and property tax freezes. When outlining the importance of improving road safety, Achampon mentioned he does not support defunding the police and says given the population growth, he believes we need more police. He also advocates for increased mental health supports and funding.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
April Engelberg is a litigation lawyer at the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, and a graduate of Dalhousie University. Engelberg previously ran in the 2018 municipal elections in Ward 10, placing second to former councillor Joe Cressy with 3,346 votes. Her platform covers downtown transit planning, her support for Vision Zero, improved park maintenance, affordable housing, and green initiatives, including installing public organic green bins throughout the city. As part of her campaign, Engelberg is advocating for the construction of a lift bridge to the Toronto Islands for pedestrian and cyclist use.
Peter George is an entrepreneur with specialties in finance, mergers and acquisitions, and venture capital. On his website, George mentions being a resident of Spadina-For York for 14 years, and cites more than 20 years of experience in business. He is also CEO and co-founder of Neurolytix, a company that has patented a new blood test for detecting concussions. He is also on the board of directors for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and WISE Trust. George’s platform includes plans to create permanent shelters for unhoused people and conduct an audit of all walking areas in Spadina-Fort York to ensure “sidewalks are safe for everyone.” If elected, he says he would advocate for the area’s new and existing transit stations to be built faster to minimise construction disruption, as well as fill vacant commercial buildings with small entrepreneurial tenants. George’s platform says he would support “affordable ownership” housing on public land, as well as “rent-to-own plans for first time home buyers and push for family sized units.”
Ausma Malik is a community organizer with a background in policy, communications, and community engagement. She has been the director of advocacy and organizing at the Atkinson Foundation since 2016 and is currently taking a leave to focus on her campaign. She previously worked as the director of campaigns and community outreach at the Stephen Lewis Foundation and was also a TDSB trustee for Ward 10 from 2014-2018. Her platform covers affordable housing, reliable green transit, safe roads, and accessible community services. Malik has been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, Progress Toronto, and the Toronto Star.
Karlene Nation is a media specialist and a former broadcast journalist who worked at CTV News Toronto for 22 years. She also served two terms as a member of the Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee. Nation ran in the 2018 municipal election, placing sixth in Ward 10 with 860 votes, and in the 2014 provincial elections as a PC candidate for York West, placing third with 2,794 votes. Her platform includes changing zoning laws, lowering business taxes, increasing police patrols, promoting community safety, and building supports for disabled people.
Laura-Maria Nikolareizi is a former aide to Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jim Karygiannis and mayor Mel Lastman. She previously ran for council in Scarborough Centre in 2003, losing to Michael Thompson. Her platform includes attracting businesses to the city and reducing red tape, and aiming for net-zero emissions as a city. If elected, she pledges “to assemble a working group that includes substantial First Nations and community representation, to solidify the plan for the creation of the Waterfront Park when the Island Airport lease expires.”
Arber Puci is an engineer, entrepreneur and the Founder of food-sharing platform, La Piat. Puci currently works at Cavendish Nuclear, according to his LinkedIn. His platform includes increasing park space, transforming Toronto into a carbon neutral city, and making housing more affordable. He also proposes updated zoning and alcohol regulations, and curbing crime through community safety programs in each ward.
Igor Samardzic is an urban planner, disability advocate, and co-founder of S+G Urban Partners and Urban Fabric Media, a social enterprise that produces multimedia content on critical urban issues. Samardzic sat on the Canadian Urban Institute’s expanding housing options in neighbourhoods roundtable and served as the chair of the TTC’s advisory committee on accessible transit. He is currently a leading social justice fellow at the University of Toronto’s school of cities. His campaign tackles issues of affordable housing development, accessibility, active transportation, street furniture, and public spaces.
Stephanie Soltermann is a former manager at RBC and has a background in business administration. Her platform mentions food insecurity, housing affordability, and better funding for health services, alongside safer and greener city spaces and roads. She has proposed property tax relief for small businesses with a demonstrable financial need. Soltermann is vocal about advocating for recipients of ODSP, including providing wage incentives to companies employing ODSP recipients. Under the umbrella of bodily autonomy, Soltermann says she will “protect residents physical & mental health by advocating against lockdowns & mandates.”
Andrei Zodian is a community organizer and entrepreneur. He previously ran in the 2018 municipal elections, where he recieved 133 votes. Zodian’s platform includes the partial elimination of TTC fares during off-peak hours, blanket Wi-Fi in downtown Toronto, and the introduction of emergency shelter pods placed in government buildings as a form of shelter for unhoused people. He says he does not support “forcing people to get vaccinated or restricting freedoms for those who cannot or will not get vaccinated,” and additionally says that as city councillor, he would poll his constituents in every decision he has to make as a method of Direct Democracy.
School Trustee Candidates
On his website, Aaron Anderson writes he is a former student and educator at TDSB who is currently working as an off-ice official at Hockey Canada. If elected, Aaron shares that he would bring his experience as an elected director of his condominium board to the role of trustee. He supports flexible school choice and is interested in replacing ageing school facilities, increasing accountability, and collaborating with all levels of government to strengthen the education system.
Alexis Dawson is an anti-racism trainer, equity and inclusion consultant, and public education advocate. She was appointed as interim trustee for Ward 9 in 2018. Dawson is the Governance Commission Chair for the Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators, Co-Chair of the TDSB’s Black Student Achievement Community Advisory Committee, and Co-Chair of the Rawlinson Community School. She was the 2019 recipient of the City of Toronto’s Access, Equity and Human Rights William P. Hubbard Race Relations Award for her work on equity in education. She commits to developing policies and practices that promote equitable access and wellbeing, foster academic success, and that factor in the community’s voice and needs. Dawson has also been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council.
Antonio DeMichele is a registered realtor in Ontario who describes having over 28 years of experience as a sales representative for Royal Lepage Elite Realty. As part of his campaign platform, DeMichele prioritizes equality for all students. He wants to improve the quality of life of all families in the Davenport community, including by increasing the safety of students getting to school and by addressing learning challenges and opportunities in an inclusive manner.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
In his Twitter bio, Geoff Miracula describes himself as a stay-at-home father of three. Two of Miracula’s children go to TDSB schools, and he is currently the treasurer of the parent council for The Grove Community School, a public alternative school focused on social justice, community engagement and environmental education. Geoff has also described himself as a feminist when interviewed by CBC in 2017 regarding families who divert from the patriarchal naming customs.
While there is limited information online about Mychael Pacheco’s professional background, a Portugese newspaper described Pacheco’s priorities include hiring more teachers, making classrooms smaller, and making school zones safer.
While there is limited information online about her professional background, Voula Stevens previously ran for Ward 8 TDSB trustee in 2018, placing sixth out of seventh candidates.
Atul Tiwari is the head of sales and national sales model optimization at Tata Consultancy Services. Tiwari says he would bring his 25 years of experience in leadership and facilitating projects to his role of trustee if elected. He is interested in making sure students have the tools and technology they need to succeed, and helping children realise their potential. As an example of this commitment, Tiwari points to his role in helping over 10,000 students consider a future in STEM fields by launching the TDSB goIT program with Tata Consultancy Services.
Rosina Bonavota previously ran for city councillor in Ward 21 in the 2014 election, placing fourth out of four candidates and she ran for Ward 5 trustee in the 2010 municipal election, placing third out of ten candidates. She also ran for Ward 18 trustee in the 2006 election, placing third out of seven candidates. Details of her campaign are not available online.
Renato Fallico is a Technology Support Technician at Tommy Douglas Secondary School.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Stephen Mensah serves as the Executive Director of the Toronto Youth Cabinet, the official youth advisory board to the city, and is on the board of directors of the For Youth Initiative, a local non-profit supporting black, racialized and newcomer youth since 1995. He is pursuing a double major in criminology and politics and governance at the Toronto Metropolitan University. Mensah has been endorsed by outgoing Ward 9 trustee Norm di Pasquale.
Through the Toronto Youth Cabinet, Mensah advocated for free menstrual products on university campuses, as well as mental health support for post-secondary students. He also helped develop a partnership between the City and the Toronto Youth Cabinet to encourage young people to get vaccinated. According to his campaign website, his priorities include advocating for an expansion of student nutrition programs to address pandemic-related food insecurity, more mental health support staff for students, and additional per-child funding.
Cameron Miranda-Radbord is an ex-officio member of the Board of Regents of Victoria College at the University of Toronto. According to his website, he is also a community healthcare outreach worker and a volunteer in the community. Miranda-Radbord has been the Chair of the City Youth Council of Toronto since 2018, and was a board director and policy chair with the Toronto–St. Paul’s Federal Liberal Association. He is a founding member of the TCDSB’s 2SLGBTQ+ Community Advisory Committee, and an administrator of the Toronto Catholic School Parent Facebook group. As part of his campaign, Miranda-Radbord wants to ensure construction on St. Raymond school is finished and a new school is built at 12 Regent Street to address overcrowding. If elected, he will advocate for an early-start gifted program, French education that starts in earlier grades, access to the Toronto Island Natural Science School, and 2SLGBTQ+ rights for Ward 9 students. He says he supports continued uniform policies, and converting the Bond Place Hotel into permanent affordable housing to support student safety. Miranda-Radbord has been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council.
Kevin Morrison previously ran in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 municipal elections for the TCDSB Ward 11 trustee position and in Ward 8 in 2012. He finished second each year except in 2012 when he placed sixth out of ten candidates. In 2012, days before the Ward 8 election, Morrison advocated publicly for the reversal of a motion that mandated the Canadian anthem be sung a cappella each day. According to several news outlets, Morrison filed a case with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, arguing the motion was discriminatory because it forces students in the Catholic school board to sing a cappella while other schools have music.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Edith Pearson has been a debt collections analyst for over a decade. Pearson prevously ran for Ward 10 trustee in the 2014 election and Ward 6 trustee in the 2018 election, placing second out of three candidates both times. In 2014, Pearson’s campaign focused on school principals having the final decision on extracurricular activities, full support and inclusion for children with disabilities, and collaborating with teachers and the ministry to improve learning in mathematics. Details of her current campaign are unavailable.
Amina Bibi Bhaiyat
Nathalie Dufour Séguin - Incumbent
Nathalie Dufour Séguin is the incumbent trustee for MonAvenir Ward 3 – Toronto Ouest and has been re-elected by acclamation for the 2022 term as she is running unopposed. She was first elected trustee by ballot vote in 2006 and received acclamation in 2010. In 2014, she decided to step down to pursue other projects and was re-elected by ballot vote in 2018. Outside of the TCDSB, Dufour Séguin is an Education Community Relationship Manager for Groupe Média TFO, a media company that generates educational and cultural content for the Ontario Francophone community. She is also a former board member and former president of Toronto Francophone Women’s Shelter La Maison d’hébergement francophone de Toronto.
Dufour Séguin is on the MonAvenir School Council, having originally joined in 2006 when she became trustee (when the school was named Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud). After serving as vice president for two years, she was elected president in 2012, a role she held until 2014. In 2013, under Dufour Séguin’s leadership, the school council launched a discrimination action against the province as a means of forcing the Ministry of Education to replace one of their Hamilton-based schools with a new, larger building for the expanded student population. An issue Dufour Séguin said people have been advocating for since the 1990’s, the council invoked charter rights by arguing the Francophone school was not being resourced adequately and therefore access to education was not equal to those in Anglophone schools.
Correction: October 19—A previous version of this page said that city council candidate Rocco Achampong was most aligned with John Tory, voting against tax increases. This has been changed to say that Achampong voted against property tax increases.
Information in Candidate Tracker was compiled and written by The Local’s team of journalists and fact checkers. City council candidates were emailed a questionnaire asking for information about their history, experience, and plans. They were also surveyed about their stances on twelve key votes that took place in the 2018-22 council term. Not all candidates were reachable or responded. The Local also conducted its own research to independently source and verify information about each city council and school trustee candidate. If you’re a candidate whose information is not here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Last updated: October 20, 2022.
Contributors: Inori Roy, Ann Marie Elpa, Nikky Manfredi, Danielle Orr, H.G. Watson, Emma Buchanan, Dhriti Gupta, Zeahaa Rehman, Neville Park, Nicholas Hune-Brown, Tai Huynh, Craig Madho, Steve Combes, and Lia Mattacchione.
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