Home field advantage seen as key for council hopeful

Mary Fragedakis shovels her own driveway.

It may seem like a trivial detail, but in fact it says something about the message the Ward 29 candidate wants voters to hear in the upcoming city elections: she is a woman of the people, specifically the people of Toronto-Danforth.

The co-owner of a marketing conference business for the past eight years, Fragedakis, 38, is also vice president of the Broadview Community Youth Group, which she co-founded. Holding a master’s degree in political science she says the decision to run for office for the first time was the natural conclusion of her interest in politics.

Perhaps fittingly, Fragedakis seems unafraid to stand out. A long-time runner as well as a recent devotee to yoga (“It’s changed my life,” she says), she admits to being something of an oddity as a vegetarian of Greek background.

“When I went vegetarian, my mom cried,” she says, although her family has now come around to the idea, even changing their own eating habits to a degree.

Fragedakis describes herself as a fiscally prudent and progressive person who is a member of the NDP. In the way of political role models, she mentions former East York mayor — and current Beaches-East York MPP — Michael Prue. Like Prue, Fragedakis was not a fan of amalgamation, although she acknowledges it’s too far along to do anything now. She says the megacity underscores the need for strong local representation.

“I think people at the local level want to have somebody like them,” she says. “They want somebody from their community to represent them. If you don’t live it every day, how do you say you speak for them.

“I’m born and raised in this area,” says Fragedakis, a tall, slender woman with a head full of plentiful curls and a broad smile. “And I still live here.”

That may not seem like much of a boast for a typical candidate, but then Fragedakis is not running in a typical race. The retirement of longtime councillor Case Ootes has attracted former high-profile councillor Jane Pitfield to the ward. Pitfield, who represented nearby Ward 26 until losing the mayoral contest to David Miller in 2006, has been out of politics since that loss and is now looking to make a

“Jane who?” Fragedakis jokes when asked how she’ll compete with an established name. That she’ll play up her roots in the community is a no-brainer. More explicitly, she says city council needs greater diversity and fresh ideas.

To that point, she has three ideas. The first, and her top priority, is environmental initiatives.

“I know there are a lot of things we could be doing in this ward that are available to other wards,” she says. Specifically, she points to solar panel projects and more green spaces for young families.

As well, she wants to make sure that Ward 29 sees its fair share of services and that public transit routes aren’t scaled back.

“We’re fortunate to have the subway, but we still need to have things like night buses along the northern end of the ward,” she says.

As of press time there are six candidates running in Ward 29 including Fragedakis, Pitfield, Chris Caldwell, Mike Restivo, John Richardson and Jennifer Wood.

About this article:

By: Joshua Freeman
Posted: Apr 15 2010 4:47 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto