Who will replace Ootes in Ward 29?

Six vie for open east end council seat

It’s shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested council races in town: Toronto-Danforth’s Ward 29.

It’s got everything: no incumbent, a former councillor as candidate and a party-backed star candidate.

Case Ootes, who’s held the ward for almost 22 years, is not seeking re-election. Six candidates in total are vying for the job: Jane Pitfield, Jennifer Wood, Mary Fragedakis, John Richardson, Mike Restivo and Chris Caldwell.

Pitfield has the advantage in the final stretch of the campaign, said Ryerson political professor Mitch Kosny.

Pitfield was an East York school trustee from 1994 to 1997 and then elected councillor in Don Valley West until 2006 when she made an unsuccessful bid to be mayor of Toronto.

“Jane Pitfield is running again and quite a few people think she’s the incumbent,” said Kosny, who lives in the ward.

This means Pitfield already has an advantage of sorts: she’s armed with political experience and name recognition in a race with no incumbent.

But this is by no means a one-horse race.

Backed by some heavy-hitting New Democrat Party politicians, Fragedakis is making a big push for the ward. Federal NDP leader and Toronto-Danforth MP Jack Layton, and local MPPs Peter Tabuns and Michael Prue all have endorsed her.

It’s no secret the NDP covet this ward as they not only represent the area federally and provincially, but currently have left-leaning councillors in the surrounding areas with Sandra Bussin, Paula Fletcher and Janet Davis.

The NDP came close to taking the Ward 29 seat in the 2006 race when they campaigned hard for Diane Alexopoulos, who lost by 20 votes to Ootes.

Fragedakis is co-owner of a marketing conference business and vice-president of the Broadview Community Youth Group. With a political science degree, she was born and raised in the area and lives in the ward.

But having the NDP backing and being a local resident doesn’t guarantee a win for Fragedakis, said Kosny.

“You’d think if the NDP could get it together, it should be a cakewalk to get a local rep in. But they haven’t gotten it together,” he said.

And don’t dismiss candidate Jennifer Wood in this race, Kosny said.

“If you could win it based on a resume, she has a nice package. She is sharp. She gets it and she has the right kind of stuff, cares about people. But it’s not a job interview,” he said. “As a first-time candidate can she galvanize enough support?”

Wood might have a better chance if Pitfield wasn’t running, he adds.

“It is a three-horse race but two of the three have a better shot. Mary (Fragedakis) and Jane (Pitfield) will have more going for them,” Kosny said.

Wood is a lawyer, also has a Bachelor of Science degree and has endorsements from current councillors Karen Stintz, Denzil Minnan-Wong and others. A soccer coach, Wood lives in the ward and is raising her young family here. She teaches Sunday school in the area and has volunteered with a number of organizations.

While Kosny said a candidate should run in the ward they live in, it likely won’t be the deciding factor in this case.

There are three others in the race.

Chris Caldwell lives just next to Ward 29. He registered Jan. 4 the first day of nominations before Ootes announced his retirement. The business analyst and consultant has an urban planning background. He’s pushing for better citizen engagement in planning issues and city hall decision making in general as well as a big focus on striking a balance for social, environmental and financial progress.

Life-long Ward 29 resident Mike Restivo has deep roots in the area. His parents used to have a local grocery store in the ward called S. Restivo and Son where he worked for a decade until 1980 when he became a technician and designed his own computer programs. He also has a degree specializing in social and political philosophy, ethics and religion. Restivo’s big election priorities are making the TTC more profitable and lowering property taxes.

Candidate John Richardson would consider privatizing garbage and wants to see greater investment in transit.

The part-time lawyer runs seminars for university students preparing for the next stage of their lives. He’s lived in the ward for 26 years and wants to help residents feel more connected to city government.

About this article:

Posted: Oct 18 2010 6:24 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto

3 thoughts on “Who will replace Ootes in Ward 29?

  • October 19, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I’m a bit confused by this article. The “front runners” are chosen by one resident in the ward, a “political professor.” How is this balanced and unbiased reporting? It would have been more useful for Ward 29 voters to read what the candidates have said publicly, and how they differ on the issues. I’ve attended two of the all-candidates meetings and watched their debate on Rogers. While all six have attractive qualities, my vote is going to Chris Caldwell, who has the most knowledge about city planning and urban development. We need intellect and thoughtfulness on City Council, not politics-as-usual.

  • October 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Clearly, there was no reporting from the Town Crier paper at the largest and most organized of the candidates debates at Eastminster United Church or your review would have been much different. I have posted two independent reviews on my website http://www.caldwellforcouncil.ca from the debate and accolades continue to pour in. This city needs the skills and vision to make progress. Business as usual is not an option and people are waking up to this fact. I would ask that Kosny actually attend the public debates and see how residents of Ward 29 respond to candidates before summarily discounting half of the slate.

  • October 18, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I believe that Chris Caldwell is the best candidate we can choose for Ward 29. He is intelligent, committed, and above all would bring all the benefits of his Degree in Urban Planning. He believes in community development with collaborative input, not like the type of experience many of us have just had with the TTC. Chris is an excellent listener who will really “hear” the concerns of the local residents, and then carry them forward with conviction and dedication. I have been impressed by Chris as are those who are getting to know him better.

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