About the Ward
Toronto-Danforth is bordered on the south by Lake Ontario, on the east by Coxwell Avenue, on the north by Taylor Creek and the Don River East Branch, and on the west by the Don River. It’s an established neighbourhood, with 63 percent of homes built before 1960. Like so many wards, Toronto-Danforth has huge disparities in wealth, with 28 percent of residents having a household income above $125,000, while 46 percent of renters spending more than 30 percent of their income on shelter. Incumbent Paula Fletcher has been on Toronto city council since 2003.
Where the Candidates Stand
There are just four candidates challenging Fletcher this year, and one does not have a platform available online. Wali Abro is a Municipal Socialist Alliance candidate who has volunteered with both the Liberal and PC parties. Denise Walcott is a Danforth resident who works in marketing. James Dyson is a small business owner. (See their fact-checked bios in the section below).
The matrix below provides a head-to-head comparison of where council candidates stand. The Local combed through city council records to review all the decisions made over the last four years and identified a dozen votes that are the most telling on key issues: homelessness, transportation, housing, policing, taxes, and the environment. We then sent the challengers a survey asking them how they would have voted on those same 12 motions, and compared the results to Fletcher’s votes.
Only two candidates responded to The Local’s survey.
Here Are the Takeaways
- John De Marco has the most conservative position of those polled. He does not support any measure, save having a judicial inquiry into the encampment clearings.
- Abro’s positions are much more progressive, though he did not respond to whether he would support tax increases; Abro offered the following clarifications, saying “my votes have everything to do with placing the burden of funding and of tax increases on homeowners’ primary residences, small businesses, the working class, and financially vulnerable persons. Large corporations and the extremely wealthy should be taxed more to fund city services.”
- Incumbent Paula Fletcher has generally voted with the progressive wing of council, though she voted against more affordable units for Housing Now, and did not vote on whether there should be a judicial inquiry into encampment clearings.
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City Council Candidates
Wali Abro has a background in sales and customer service. He has volunteered with Islamic Relief Canada as well as with the federal Liberal Party in 2015 and the Ontario PC in 2016. His platform includes improving affordability through non-profit public service provision like municipally-owned internet service provision and insurance, building more social housing, regulating empty units and property taxes, and expropriating units left empty for more than two years to shelter houseless people, among other forms of housing affordability regulation. He also supports the implementation of ranked-ballot voting. Abro is a Municipal Socialist Alliance candidate.
John De Marco
John De Marco does not have a public website or platform available at time of publication. In an email to The Local, De Marco said he is focused encouraging positive change on council.
James Dyson’s website describes him as a 20-year resident of east Toronto, and a small business owner. His platform priorities include providing tax relief to families, supporting small businesses, improving emergency service response times and making the streets cleaner. He emphasizes the need for a ‘kids-first’ approach to policy making, including improving resources for youth. His website also mentions his support for term limits in city council and greater data-informed decision making.
Paula Fletcher - Incumbent
Paula Fletcher has been the councillor for Ward 14 since 2018. Previously, she was the councillor for the former Ward 30 from 2003 to 2018, and was also the area’s TDSB Trustee from 2000 to 2003.
An old-school progressive well-entrenched in an NDP stronghold, she is the spouse of John Cartwright, longtime president of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, who recently retired. She has been a stalwart cycling advocate (though she once accidentally cast a deciding vote against bike lanes on University Avenue). In 2011, she led the charge against then-Mayor Rob Ford and then-Councillor Doug Ford’s plans to wrest control of the Port Lands (part of Fletcher’s ward) for an outlandish scheme involving a monorail and ferris wheel.
She sits on several boards and committees, including the board of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation and the film, television and digital media advisory board. As part of her campaign, Fletcher is focused on creating affordable housing, improving road safety, cultivating the arts, and addressing climate change.
Denise Walcott is a Danforth resident who works in marketing. Walcott was one of 21 candidates who applied to fill the position of Ward 1 city councillor left vacant by Michael Ford earlier this year. Her platform includes increasing housing ownership, improving road safety through speed limit reduction and bike lanes, and supporting businesses by providing courses and funding opportunities. She expresses support for community safety, including through non-police interventions, and commits to a quarterly townhall to hear from residents.
School Trustee Candidates
Sara Ehrhardt has a background in public policy, working as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. She was also the Senior Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Infrastructure. In 2016, as a parent to young children, she co-founded Toronto East Enders for Childcare, a working group that lobbied the provincial government to provide more affordable child care options, and in 2017, she co-chaired a working group that convinced city council to reinstate funding for an east-end community pool initially slated for closure. Her campaign priorities include improving school infrastructure (such as school ventilation), ensuring reasonable class sizes, maintaining transparency with parents and dismantling institutional barriers for children facing oppression. Ehrhardt has been endorsed by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council.
Matt Farrell has a background in technical theatre production, currently working as the Vice President of Operations of TO Live, managing venues like Meridian Hall, St Lawrence Centre, and the Meridian Arts Centre. His campaign platform includes increasing arts education funding and advocating for Ontario’s public and Catholic school boards to merge to save money. Farrell also launched Know the Air, a crowd-sourced initiative to measure CO2 levels in school classrooms based on the notion that CO2 levels indicate ventilation effectiveness. Farrell hopes that providing access to information about air quality in classrooms will help parents and students make informed choices regarding COVID-19 precautions.
Sukhpreet Sangha is a program manager for Law in Action Within Schools (LAWS) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, a lawyer, and an artist. Her job takes her to several high schools in the TDSB where she runs programs for students and teaches law. According to her campaign website, Sangha wants to ensure that students and teachers are properly supported with the resources they need. To do so, she says she will lobby the province to get adequate funding for things like better facilities, smaller class sizes, and pandemic recovery. Prioritizing equity, Sangha commits to providing additional resources to high-ranking schools on the TDSB’s Learning Opportunities Index and creating policies that address racism and reconciliation efforts.
Nicole Ufoegbune describes herself as a business and policy professional, and has previous experience as a project manager at the Ted Rogers School of Management’s Diversity Institute. While Ufoegbune hasn’t described her platform in detail, she says her experience in public administration, teaching at a university level, and mentoring youth will help her build a quality learning environment for TDSB students if elected.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Angela Kennedy - Incumbent
Angela Kennedy is the incumbent Trustee for Ward 11 since 2000 and currently serves as Chair of the TCDSB, having also been appointed to the position in 2015. She was previously elected Vice-Chair of the Board for the 2019-2020 year. In 2022, she ran in the provincial election as a Progressive Conservative Party Candidate, placing third of nine. Kennedy has also been a nurse for over 50 years. For outstanding efforts in diabetes education, Kennedy was awarded the 2018 Banting & Best Diabetes Educator of the Year Award from the University of Toronto. A 2010 Ontario Superior Court decision found that Kennedy breached the Municipal Conflict of Interests Act by acting in a conflict of interest relating to staffing cuts and was temporarily removed from her position as Trustee. In 2012, she appealed the decision and was cleared of her conflict of interest charges. Kennedy also participated in an interview with Rebel Media in 2015 and said she felt she was subject to religious descrimination for being refused a position on the Board of Health because of her anti-abortion views and because she voted against voted against gay-straight alliance groups being allows in schools and HPV vaccinations. Previously outspoken against Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum, Kennedy publicly announced her change of stance to support the lesson plan in 2016. In a 2022 campaign profile for Beach Metro Community News, Kennedy shares she has advocated for things like additional safety measures during the pandemic, new school capital funds, bus stop changes, boundary reviews. She commits to preserving Catholic education and student wellbeing.
Information about this candidate could not be found at time of publication.
Lisa Romano-Dwyer is a registered social worker, a sessional instructor at the University of Toronto and the owner of a small private practice operating in The Beaches. She previously worked as a school social worker and served as a TDSB trustee for Ward 12 from 1997-2000. According to her campaign page, Romano-Dwyer priorities include student mental health, modernized buildings and maintaining high academic excellence.
Amina Bibi Bhaiyat
The City Clerk has voided the election for the MonAvenir school board in this ward. The election will not take place on October 24 and a by-election will be held at a later date.
The City Clerk has voided the election for the MonAvenir school board in this ward. The election will not take place on October 24 and a by-election will be held at a later date. In an email to parents sent on October 21, Rawdat said he was ending his campaign. Read more about ineligible trustees running in French-language schools.
The City Clerk has voided the election for the MonAvenir school board in this ward. The election will not take place on October 24 and a by-election will be held at a later date. On October 21, Wilson notified the city clerk that he is not eligible to hold office. Read more about ineligible trustees running in French-language schools.
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 email@example.com. Last updated: October 22, 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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