Parker will run again in 2010

[attach]806[/attach]In 2006, the race for councillor in Ward 26 was wide open with the incumbent Jane Pitfield deciding to run for mayor.

But John Parker is guaranteeing that 2010 won’t be a repeat of 2006.

The Don Valley West rep who beat out 14 other candidates to secure a seat on council, told the Town Crier he plans to run for a second term.

“I will be seeking re-election in Ward 26 in the new year,” he said on Sept. 25.

The race was one of the most closely watched last time out with a surprising number of candidates stepped forward.

Parker narrowly beat out runner-up Mohamed Dhanani.

While former councillor Pitfield said she has no plans to run in the next municipal election, Parker said he wants to run again because he hasn’t completed his agenda.

“There are projects in all parts of the ward, some of which are well underway, others of which aren’t as far progressed as I would like and some that are going to take a lot of hard work and heavy lifting to take them through to completion,” he said.

Parker said his first year in office was spent initiating those projects, and building relationships with all the key players in the various parts of the ward, Parker said.

Now, he wants to advance projects in Flemingdon, Bennington Heights and along Laird Dr. One ongoing project includes raising money and community support for the expansion of the Leaside arena.

“That will be a major project,” he said. “It’ll be at least $13 million, and that’s money that the city doesn’t have to spend. That’s money that we’re going to have to raise through other means.”

Parker may face competition from an old campaign rival.

Dhanani, who lost to Parker by only 214 votes, said he is seriously considering running again in the same ward, adding he’ll make a firm decision early in the new year.

“I’m being approached by the various communities in Don Valley West,” he said.

Dhanani hasn’t strayed from community activism or politics since 2006. Soon after the election, he began serving as board chairman for the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.

Last year, he was recruited to work for Toronto-Centre MPP George Smitherman. He said he remains actively involved in Don Valley West, including serving on the board of the Flemingdon Food Bank.

[attach]807[/attach]Whoever represents the ward needs to understand “the various needs of the various communities and provide a bridge across those various communities”, Dhanani said.

He said he learned a lot from the 2006 campaign run, in terms of getting his message out and fundraising.

“It’s extremely hard work to be a candidate,” he said. “This is not something you can do as a hobby.”

Meanwhile, Leaside resident Pitfield said she remains active in the community and beyond, having focused her attention on volunteer work and writing a book in the years since her run at the city’s top political job.

She hasn’t totally ruled out politics altogether.

“If I were to become an elected person again it would be at the municipal level.”