Problem-solver seeks council seat

[attach]1549[/attach]When Rosina Bonavota was helping run the family business, Bonamico Cafe near Oakwood Avenue and Vaughan Road, everyone from teenagers to grandmothers would chat about their concerns.

Lending an ear, Bonavota became known as the neighbourhood problem-solver.

Now as an Eglinton-Lawrence Ward 15 candidate, Bonavota wants to tackle issues from within city hall.

The school bus driver has lived in the area since she was seven and says she has keen knowledge of local issues. One of the persistent problems in the area is crime, she says. It was a personal tragedy that hit very close to home last November.

“My friend’s son died six months ago, shot by a stray bullet. He was studying to be a police officer,” said Bonavota, who has two grown sons of her own.

She’s referring to the murder of 18-year-old Robert Flagiello, who was fatally wounded as he stood on Vaughan Road. He was not the intended victim.

In mid-April, the neighbourhood was again exposed to danger when gunshots were heard outside Vaughan Road Academy. The school was under lockdown and shell casings were found outside the school.

Bonavota says it’s time to increase police visibility.

“They should have foot patrol police walk the area.”

Apart from crime, she says Vaughan Road Academy is affected by a lack of recreational opportunities for youth.

If the city doesn’t have the money for a new recreation centre, she proposes opening up the school’s gym for afterschool basketball for youth and bingo for seniors.

People have been encouraging her to run for council 30 years, she said.

In the mid-1970s when she worked at a bank, her co-workers and manager would come to her with problems.

“Even then my (bank) manager said I should run for council,” she said.

Having a high profile in the neighbourhood helped her word of mouth campaign in 2006 when she ran for council in Eglinton-Lawrence for the first time.

She got nearly 1,900 votes coming in third in that race and this time she plans a larger campaign blitz across Ward 15.

“I have to work to introduce myself to people, knock on doors and have meetings,” said Bonavota. “I’m here for the people, not the pay.”

Many elderly people live on fixed incomes, so she’d like to keep property taxes down by reducing expenses. She’d start with slashing politicians’ pay by 25 percent and office budgets by 80 percent.

“When you give someone somebody else’s money, they don’t spend it wisely,” she said of the councillors’ expense accounts.

She’s keenly aware that many residents are watching every penny.

When she worked at the family cafe and people couldn’t afford a coffee or the full cost of a meal, she’d pay for customers out of her own pocket.

She also pitched in during last summer’s municipal strike by taking seniors’ garbage to the dump for them.

“I want to help the people,” said Bonavota. “They have a lot of confidence in me. No one is doing anything to help them.”