[attach]2347[/attach]The race to represent Willowdale at city council is on, and first-timer Sonny Cho hasn’t wasted a minute.
“I registered back in March,” said Cho, whose website says no thanks to donations because his campaign reached the maximum allowable contributions, or about $37,000 for his ward, within the first month.
Cho, a family man who immigrated to Canada from Korea as a teen, is also mounting a formidable army of volunteers.
“I think there’s a lot of changes (that) need to be done in Toronto … all the problems with the traffic and the TTC issues,” Cho said, calling transit his number 1 issue.
“The Transit City plan, while it’s not a perfect solution, it’s something that I think we should have supported.”
Unlike incumbent David Shiner, who has been pushing for an expanded subway system, Cho said he would support light rail transit expansion, as was planned under the Transit City. It’s expensive to build subways, he said.
In challenging the incumbent, Cho said he’ll campaign on a message of collaboration.
“(Shiner) was opposed to a lot of things that Mayor Miller was doing. Not that I’m a full supporter of David Miller, but I think we need to get things done,” said Cho, 50.
“I want to be more of a collaborator with the other councillors and whoever the new mayor will be, and also work with the provincial and federal governments.
Cho has volunteered for area MP Martha Hall Findlay and worked with former premier David Peterson.
On the local level, Cho wants to work to bring more vitality to Yonge Street.
“When I’m talking to residents, they want to see Yonge Street a little more beautified,” he said. “There are a lot of condos going up, but we want to make it more enjoyable.”
The business and commercial landscape of Willowdale could also use some focused attention, Cho said.
When he’s not on the campaign trail, Cho runs a small commercial real estate business.
Over the past decade, Cho said he’s inked real estate deals that have helped encourage foreign companies, especially Korean companies like Shinhan Bank and Kia Motors, to set up shop in the region.
He’d like to continue that work by attracting companies to Willowdale.
“I would like to revitalize a bit more of the Gordon Baker Business Park area,” Cho said. “It’s already designated as a commercial/industrial area.
“I’d like to work to bring more high-tech companies into that area. (If we) revitalized that area people wouldn’t have to travel downtown all the time for jobs.”
Cho said he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in winning the election.
“I know there are people who are die-hard fans of Mr. Shiner, but there are also people who are not so happy that Mr. Shiner hasn’t done much for the ward,” Cho said.
One tactic he’ll use: getting people out to vote.
“Last election only 34 percent of the people votes in Ward 24. I’d like to encourage people to vote to bring up the (number of) voters voting.”