Six fight to unseat Cesar Palacio

Davenport's Ward 17 race features many first-time candidates

In Davenport, a healthy crop of candidates are vying for incumbent candidate Cesar Palacio’s Ward 17 seat on council.

Seven candidates are after the job: Tony Letra, Brian Bragason, Maria Marques, Palacio, Kar Rasaiah, Jonah Schein and Ben Stirpe.

Schein, who works in the Davenport West neighbourhood’s The Stop Community Food Centre, could in some ways be viewed as Palacio’s biggest challenger.

Alejandra Bravo, the popular community leader and Palacio’s last contender who almost unseated him during the 2006 municipal election, is backing Schein. It is Schein’s first time running for office, however.

As it is Brian Bragason’s.

Bragason, who has lived in the ward since 1996, is a driver for Canada Post.

Bragason said too many bad urban planning decisions has hurt Toronto, and if elected he would work with the other members on council to remedy the situation.

He also feels Ward 17’s green spaces are dismal and lack any creativity.

“I’d like to see the northwest corner of Northcliffe and St. Clair Avenues turned into a green piazza, a garden space modelled after the
perennial garden in St. James Park just north of the St. Lawrence Market,” Bragason said in late September.

“I would turn the councillor’s expense account into a community fund to make this and other community initiatives happen.”

Bragason said he would also initiate a campaign to beautify Rogers Road.

He added that he would like to see longer hours for city-run public swimming pools and skating rinks.

Lifelong Ward 17 resident Ben Stirpe also feels it’s time for a change at city hall and says he’s the one to implement it at the municipal level.

“I am running for office to restore the sense of duty and responsibility to elected office,” said the retail day trader who buys and sells financial instruments.

“We need to return city hall to the taxpayer; spending is out of control, (there’s) too much inefficiency, not enough accountability, and to deliver these changes Ward 17 needs a leader who can make a difference, not a backbencher, at city hall.”

He said that within one month of being elected he would move to eliminate vehicle registration, and land transfer taxes and intensify police presence at methadone clinics, so illicit drug dealers have limited access to those in recovery.

Stirpe would also open a constituency office that is available to residents six days a week and he said he would publish multilingual material on community boards, as the ward is home to many Portuguese, Italian and Caribbean residents.

Also throwing her hat into the political ring is Maria Marques, who emigrated from Portugal with her parents in 1956.

Marques’ professional experience includes eight years in the provincial government’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Marques said she’s spoken with constituents who say they’ve complained to the councillor’s office about issues on their street, including messes left behind on the street after green bin collection.

If elected, she said she’d use her office budget as a reserve fund to help constituents with care-taking problems in the ward.

If re-elected, Palacio said he would work to eliminate the land transfer and vehicle registration tax, and advocate that the TTC and garbage collection become essential services.

Palacio said he has a good record of making himself available to his constituents. Over 20,000 people have his personal cell phone number, which he answers 24/7, he said.

Also in the running is Tony Letra, a social worker who’s previously run in the ward.

Schein, Letra and Rasaiah did not return calls.

About this article:

By: Lorianna De Giorgio
Posted: Oct 12 2010 3:26 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto