No stranger to political arena

[attach]1584[/attach]Evan Dean is running for public office for the first time, but the Ward 27 candidate already has a long history of government work.

He currently works in the provincial attorney general’s office ensuring funds are available for victims of crime. He’s also worked for Ontario’s ministry of health and long term care and on government-based literacy programs.

“I grew up in politics,” said Dean, whose mother Linda is Chief Administrative Officer for the County of Dufferin. “The vast majority of my career has been in Ontario government and my interest lies in local politics.”

The ward resident is one of 13 candidates running in Toronto-Centre Rosedale to replace outgoing Councillor Kyle Rae.

“With Kyle stepping down, I thought this was a good opportunity,” said the 32-year-old.

One of his key city issues is Transit City. Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals have announced that they will delay about $4 billion in funding for Transit City’s light rail transit lines.

“It’s a great initiative,” Dean said from a city hall cafe. “I would prefer subways but it can be cost-prohibitive to do that. But I support anything that gives us better transit infrastructure.”

He also supports more bike lanes like the ones going in on Jarvis Street.

“You need to get people out of driving themselves, but they won’t be encouraged if we don’t have alternatives,” he said.

Locally, he’s pushing for people across the entire ward to be more engaged in their communities as leaders.

“When you look at the Ward 27 breakdown of voting, about 40-45 percent are in Rosedale and 40-45 percent come from the (Gay) Village. Those are two distinct communities,” he said.

Some of the voters in condo-dense areas on Bay Street may not be as politically engaged because they aren’t as connected to a community, he says.

“By building these strong communities, you build strong leaders that will succeed or replace (politicians),” said Dean, who’s worked as a volunteer coordinator for Pride Festival events. “You need to encourage people to start a business improvement area or residents association or be on boards of local organizations.”

Dean is currently co-chair of Trinity Square Café, in the basement of Church of the Holy Trinity located near the Eaton’s Centre.

People can purchase lunch weekdays at the café that is run by staff but also individuals with various mental health issues who serve and prepare the meals.

“The goal is to teach life skills for people with mental illness,” he said. “It gives them a sense of stability and confidence.

“It (also) breaks down the stigma of mental illness,” said Dean, who sits on the board of directors for Our Place of Hope, which assists people with mental illness build skills for independent living.

His website, [url][/url], lays out five key points of his platform including fostering innovation and creativity by encouraging civil servants to contribute their ideas on how to improve the city and build strong communities.