[attach]1563[/attach]Jimmy Talpa lives and breathes the problems of his community and he wants to do something about them.
This, he says, is why he’s running for city council in Parkdale–High Park’s Ward 14.
“I know a lot of people in this community need help,” said Talpa. “These people on the street … they ask for money. A lot of people are like that in this area, you know, down and out. (I want) to get them into a better situation.”
A longtime resident of Parkdale, Talpa is a union labourer who also works at the Royal Ontario Agricultural Winter Fair.
He is running his campaign without a website or an email address because he cannot afford a computer. He lacks even a headshot of himself — in fact, he can’t remember the last time he had his picture taken. Yet his campaign presses on the old fashioned way: the candidate is hitting the pavement.
“I want to get people active. I’m trying to build up some volunteers,” Talpa said.
But in hitting the streets Talpa said he faces a challenge — a challenge faced by his fellow council hopefuls across the city.
“Only 10 percent of the people vote,” he said. “When you go out there and you start campaigning, they’re not interested.”
But according to Talpa they should be interested. He has been attending city council meetings for years and has run for office twice before, in 1991 and in 2006. He said that people should be interested in the process because it’s the only way to solve the many problems Parkdalers face.
Homelessness and a lack of housing is the biggest of those problems, Talpa said.
“A lot of people are homeless. I see a lot of empty space (across the city) that we could develop into low-income housing. But there’s also problems with drugs in low-income housing,” he said, coming to issue number two in Parkdale.
“The crack cocaine in Parkdale … the police have not been doing much about it and I’d like them to clean it up. These people are spending all of their welfare money and their working money on the crack just to get a buzz,” Talpa said.
But while Talpa is highly connected with and empathetic toward his own community, he recognizes that the ward is comprised of very different areas like wealthier High Park and the newly trendy Liberty Village. He said these places will be more difficult to penetrate.
“A lot of people are working in these places, like Liberty Village. But on Queen Street here, where Parkdale is, a lot of people have (different) problems.”
Different though they might be, Talpa, who is engaged to be married this coming winter, is in the race to win.
“I’m going to go out there and talk to the people. I’ll introduce myself. I’ll go to the meetings.”