Two-time Ward 17 candidate isn't running

[attach]1420[/attach]Come October, Cesar Palacio won’t be facing competition from a previous Ward 17 candidate who almost unseated him during the 2006 municipal election.

Two-time council candidate Alejandra Bravo says she has no plans to take a third stab at Ward 17 Davenport in the upcoming election.
Instead, the community activist says she’s taking the many lessons she’s learned from running for public office to her current job at the Maytree Foundation, a charity working to reducing poverty and inequality in Canada.

“The most important thing for me was (learning) that you have to run on your values,” said Bravo. “You have to know who you are and what you believe in and the fundamental changes you want to make.”

In 2006, Bravo, who was born in Chile and moved to Canada in 1974, ran a near-successful campaign against incumbent Cesar Palacio. She lost by only 281 votes. However, Bravo said that even in defeat, she realized she had a real passion for connecting with people.

“There’s no poll you can do that’s more effective than talking to thousands of people about their hopes, some of their fears and by connecting with them directly,” she said.

And though she’s not running, Bravo has remained very involved in election issues.

Last month she created Maytree’s School for Civics program, which helps members of diverse communities get more engaged in the political process. She is also working to get municipal voting rights for non-citizen permanent residents.

“Being able to train other people now to make a life-long commitment to make social change in the political process is a real privilege … Diversity in leadership is a really important issue,” said Bravo, who maintains deep-rooted ties to the immigrant community in the Oakwood Avenue and Vaughan Road area. “Making a small contribution to opening up access of networks to new voices is something that I’m really passionate about.”

She said the School for Civics has already graduated 60 aspiring candidates, some of whom have already filed their nomination papers in locations around the GTA.

Outside of her work with Maytree, Bravo also serves as president of the Hispanic-Canadian Congress, on the Toronto Board of Health and is the chair of the Etobicoke-York Local Health Committee and Art Starts, a community arts organization promoting the arts for youth in the community.

“I’ve continued to do the work I was doing before, it’s just on a different level now,” Bravo said. “For me, the experience of the campaign really allowed me to access new networks and a bigger profile has enabled me to be more effective on the issues that I care about.”