It is now officially a two-horse race in Toronto-Danforth.
Greg Bonser was first out of the gates to register as a candidate in Jack Layton’s former Ward 30. Public school board trustee Paula Fletcher expressed her interest, but did not make it official until she registered on March 20 for the council position.
"The council that will be elected in November, 2003 is going to have a number of challenges on its hands," says Fletcher, "and I want to be there advocating on behalf of the constituents I currently represent at the school board."
"The residents of Ward 30 should have a seasoned community advocate who understands their needs, and has a successful track record of fighting for them. I want to be that advocate at City Hall," says Fletcher who has lived in the east end for 14 years.
Fletcher is one of the "no cuts" trustees who refused to make all $90 million in cuts that the Ontario government demanded (last year) in order to produce a balanced school board budget. Since then the provincial government, which funds public education, has appointed Paul Christie who has taken over the operation of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
Since last summer, a number of programs have come before the chopping blocks and Fletcher is actively fighting to keep many of them alive.
"I’ve been on the frontlines working on issues that are vital to east end Toronto," says Fletcher. "Keeping pools, schools, and libraries open, resisting provincial downloading, working on developing a clean waterfront that includes green spaces and affordable housing — I understand how important all these things are to building healthy neighbourhoods and a better Toronto."
As a school trustee she helped save Bruce School from closure and worked with the community to secure funding from the Atkinson Foundation to develop the Bruce WoodGreen Early Years Centre. She also cites helping to keep school pools open, until at least this summer, and assisting in building the group Campaign Public Education among her accomplishments as a school trustee.
Fletcher has experience at City Hall as the executive assistant (1994-97) to the late councillor Dan Leckie. During this time she worked with to save the city hall library branch from closure and worked on waterfront issues.
Prior to her election, Fletcher was leader of the East End Parent Network.
Chris Phibbs, executive assistant to Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Kyle Rae (Ward 27), has said she will run in Ward 30, but has yet to register.
It would not be surprising if others came forward as well. More than 40 people applied to the city for the interim appointment to fill the vacancy left by Layton when he resigned to become leader of the NDP. At a special city council meeting on March 26, it came down to two main candidates: former councillor Tom Clifford and former public school trustee and community activist Laura Jones.
After four attempts by city council to break an 18-18 deadlock, the city clerk pulled Jones’ name from a canister and she was selected to represent the ward until residents elect someone new on Nov. 10. Jones has said that she will not run for the position in the fall.
To read profiles on Paula Fletcher, Chris Phibbs, Greg Bonser and Laura Jones check the Town Crier archives.
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