School trustee first to declare he’ll run in St. Paul’s ward 22
Matlow dives in, but current Councillor Walker may retire in 2010
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 7 for Town Crier.)
The council race in St. Paul’s has unofficially started.
Councillor Michael Walker is contemplating retirement and while the 27-year political veteran decides his future others are lining up at the gate.
Public school trustee Josh Matlow has declared he will run in Walker’s ward in 2010.
Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy has not ruled out running nor has community activist Michael Visser. Walker’s executive assistant Chris Sellors would consider running if his boss is out of the race.
Matlow sat down with the Town Crier to discuss his candidacy on Oct. 6 the afternoon he declared he will seek the council seat and his main message was on building consensus with the public and at city hall. “I’d like to see a culture change there where (councillors) work more collaboratively together,” said Matlow.
He mentioned if elected as councillor, he’d hold monthly ward forums with representatives from residential organizations, tenant and business groups.
“I don’t want to just have decisions from city hall issues reported to them,” Matlow said. “I want to genuinely bring the voice of my community to city hall. And I want to bring results from city hall back into Ward 22.”
Rumours are swirling political columnist Levy, who has reported on city hall for 11 years, will run in the ward. On Sept. 17 she ran as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the provincial St. Paul’s byelection.
“Since the byelection, even on the night of the byelection, people were asking me if I had thought about running municipally,” she said. “People who live in the area are urging me to run because they feel the current representation is not responsive to their needs.”
Levy makes no bones about the fact she’d like to see fresh blood at city hall including in Ward 22. But she’s urging others to step forward.
“I have no intentions of running anywhere at the moment. I am still recuperating from the last campaign. It’s more that people have been contacting me,” said the feisty journalist.
Photographer Visser is active in urban planning and municipal government issues.
He’s a founder of Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations and the Coalition for Municipal Change, which has put ads in the Town Crier looking for new councillors in the 2003 and 2006 elections.
This time he is looking to step from behind the scenes into the political spotlight.
“I thought about it in the (2006) election. I didn’t run when Michael Walker announced he was running,” Visser said. “This time around it looks like Michael will retire.
“I have been approached by a surprising number of people in the community to ask if I’d run,” Visser said.
If Walker retires, he said he’d “definitely run”.
Visser has a strong interest in development that works for communities.
“The city planning process needs to be better,” said Visser.
If it improves, there will be better neighbourhood developments and less chance for disputes winding up at the Ontario Municipal Board.
He also argues countries are increasingly being defined by their cities and a successful Toronto will benefit all Canadians.
“Toronto is on the verge of being a great global city,” Visser said. “It’s important that happen not just for those of us who live here but also across Canada.
For one thing, more tax dollars being generated in Toronto means more money sent to Ottawa and redistributed to other cities, he said.
Walker’s assistant Sellors was reluctant to discuss his political plans and would only say he will not run if his boss is on the ballot.