Harout Manougian takes byelection

[attach]5519[/attach]Harout Manougian managed to win the Toronto District School Board Ward 17 byelection by defeating his 16 competitors.

The 25-year-old engineering graduate received 974 votes for 18.9 percent of the total and was more than 300 votes ahead of runner-up Robert Cerjanec who took 12.7 percent.

“It’s incredible,” Manougian said at his Feb. 27 campaign party, held at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto. “I’ve been working with youth activities in this area since I was a youth myself.

“I’ve been shaped by it and I’m looking forward to making my impression.”

Manougian said he decided his very first priority as trustee would be to address the student pick-up and drop-off issues at a cul-de-sac in front of Roywood Public School.

“When I saw it for myself, it was just a disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “Immediately I am going to get a crossing guard at least to control the situation to make sure that we’re not too late in addressing it before someone gets seriously injured.”

He also said he doesn’t want anyone to get injured or not reach their potential due to bullying at school.

“I want to address bullying by highlighting the role of the bystanders, the other students who see what’s going on and have the opportunity to step in,” he said.

Manougian said he plans to seek additional funds to update and expand the technology available to students in the classroom.

One of the other focuses of his campaign was getting parents involved their children’s education. Graduating from the University of Waterloo, Manougian has had an impressive academic career, one he says he owes to the involvement of his family.

“I had a masters degree by 23 and I really believe that it was because of my parents, because of my aunts and my uncles, who were completely involved in my education,” he said. “They were always on top of me and made sure that I made every effort to live up to my full potential.”

Other plans include sitting down with the principals of the 32 schools in the ward as well as his byelection opponents.

“I want to thank the other candidates for making this a healthy democratic process, a respectful process,” he said. “I do look forward to working with them as well to make sure that the issues they raised are also addressed.”

The Ward 17 byelection and the one in neighbouring Ward 20, which was won by Sam Sotiropoulos, were called after former trustees Michael Coteau and Soo Wong were elected to Queen’s Park last fall.

The board could have chosen to appoint trustees to fill the vacancies, but it decided to hold byelections instead, in spite of the reported $500,000 price tag.