Toronto Danforth Ward 29 candidates

Councillor Case Ootes not running in To-Danforth
Four candidates running to be new Ward 29 rep
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Feb. 11 for Town Crier.)

Former Leaside councillor Jane Pitfield is running in Toronto Danforth’s Ward 29 and I wrote about her on Jan. 6 the day current rep Case Ootes announced he would not seek re-election. But she’s not the only one seeking this seat.
Now meet a trio of candidates running here: Chris Caldwell, John Richardson and Mike Restivo. Scroll down to read each profile.

Chris Caldwell for Toronto-Danforth Ward 29

Chris Caldwell wants to involve residents more in planning process. Photo courtesy of Chris Caldwell.

Chris Caldwell registered as a candidate on Jan. 4 before Ootes made a decision not to run.
I looked forward to running against him,” Caldwell said from his home 180 metres outside Ward 29. “There’s a lot I didn’t agree with (Ootes) on but it runs deeper than that. It is how people are engaged in the planning process. They want to see their desires reflected in policy.”
He wants the community to be involved in any development planning application from beginning to end.
“We make better decisions with more information,” said the 41-year-old business analyst and consultant with a background in urban planning.Caldwell said it’s not good enough to hold a public meeting and have people line up to ask questions.
He also spoke about wanting to reform city hall to bring integrity, ideas and passion for progress while striking a balance for social, environmental and financial progress.
Caldwell wants to encourage residents to be more engaged with local and city issues.
“A lot of my priorities will be set by the community,” said Caldwell. “To create change, you need to do the work.”

Candidate John Richardson wants to keep property taxes down. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Candidate John Richardson also registered early so he can knock on as many doors as possible, he said in an interview at a city hall café.
The fact there is no incumbent makes it a race, he said.
One of the key issues for him is keeping property taxes low and that means looking at the cost of city services and how they are funded.
“Put garbage (service) out for bids, not necessarily the lowest bid will get the contract. There’s a difference between the lowest bid and best bid,” said Richardson.
On the transit issue he said, “The TTC is worth investing in. The issue is where the money will come from. The TTC needs to look at all possibilities,” he added.
One suggestion he had is leasing more space to businesses at TTC stations to raise revenue, said Richardson, a part-time lawyer who also runs seminars for university students preparing for their next stage in life.
With no incumbent Richardson sees the ward as up for grabs and says that voters should choose a candidate they have confidence will show good judgment when voting on city and local policy.
“No one knows for sure what issues will arise over the next 4-8 years.”

Candidate Mike Restivo would consider road tolls to raise revenue for the city. Photo courtesy of Mike Restivo.

Candidate Mike Restivo has lived in the ward his whole life. The fact Ootes is not running was the last push he needed to register, said the retired 59-year-old.
“People want lower property taxes and more jobs,” said Restivo, who used to work as electronic technician and designed his own computer programs.
He said the TTC needs more revenue to be profitable but said asking the province for money is not the answer.
“No one should expect the province to bailout the City of Toronto,” he said. “We have to carry our own weight.
“TTC fares will have to be double,” he said. “I am not married to raising (TTC) rates. It will cause some earthquake rumblings. (But) it’s pay if you use it.”
He said transit should not be subsidized by government and is still fairly cheap compared to driving instead which can cost $30-50 a day to park a vehicle downtown, he said.
He also floated the idea of road tolls.
“The city will get valuable money through road tolls and this will keep property taxes down,” said Restivo. “I suggested these as options that should be seriously considered.”
The election is Oct. 25 so more candidates may step forward and profiles will be updated as the campaign progresses.


43 responses to “Toronto Danforth Ward 29 candidates

  1. Did anyone see Chris Caldwell’s final speech at the all-candidates meeting the other night? I thought he was amazing!

  2. I would want to know if the candidates for ward 29 support the TTC expropriating land/homes in order to build new exits along Danforth near Greenwood and Donlands. The candidates should tell us whether or not they support this happening or not! No wishy washy answers such as ‘we have to investigate further’ or ‘we would like to work with the residents and the TTC to come to a mutual decision’.

    • Peter.
      I am going to be writing on this issue next week. I can’t promise I will be able to ask all six ward 29 candidates about this as I am focused on the TTC and current councillors who plan to make a decision before the Oct. 25 election. What do you want to know and at least I can ask the current officials and councillors.

  3. That is a big question. I have not given attention to all 30 mayor candidates but only to the leaders as the are covered by The Star and Globe & Mail. I think that they have covered the larger issues that I am interested in such as transportation, including bike lanes and costs. However, I would also like to hear about some smaller issues such as facade development as I have already mentioned. To be honest, I am a little bit confused right now since Rob Ford became the front runner. Probably have to wait for the G20 to pass so that we can pay attention to the candidates again.

  4. Ubelievable !(as my neighbour use to say for just about everything)..Rob Ford the next Mayor. I guess he has similarities to Mr. Smitherman also known as Furious George.

    • Peter, who do you like for mayor among the current crop of 30 candidates running?
      What issue is important to you that you’d like to see the next mayor address?

  5. What I am saying is that businesses are destroying the original look along the Danforth. Although I realize that these are not all heritage buildings, they are old and historical and have an overall look that should not be changed just because the city is giving out free money to do it. The business owners in a large part have decided to use stucco and cover up the old brick which simply does not hold up well to our climate. Besides, it looks bad. This needs to be fixed before the city gives more money. This so called facade improvement is not any different than an owner tearing down a building to remove it’s historical or heritage features.

    • Peter,
      I get your point. I am all for facade improvements as some businesses are really run down. I’d have to see the changes myself to give an opinion on whether they are an improvement. But overall I too prefer like brick to stucco.

  6. After a break I am have come back and looked at Jennifer Wood ‘s website. Very professional and well done. I disagree however with the cities facade improvement plan and funding. Businesses in the ward have taken this money and covered up the original brick buildings particularly along the danforth with ugly out of place stucco. This isn’t Greece ! It is shameful that the business owners do this.

    • Peter,
      so you are okay with the city giving businesses some money for facade improvements, but just don’t like the style the business owners are choosing?

  7. With regards to businesses on the Danforth I would want to know what she thinks of the big box stores moving into the ward such as Mark’s Work Warehouse and the giant Shopper’s Drug Mart that was built. How does she feel about that?

  8. It remains to be seen if ward 29 residents are interested in a business savy Mary Fragedakis. Who will come first for her, the business community or the residents? Most of the business owners in ward 29 do not actually live in ward 29. Correct me if I am wrong but this is what i have believe is true. So who will come first for Ms. Fragedakis. I would also want to know her vision for the TTC/the ward. I would want to know what she thinks about expanding bike lanes onto Danforth Ave too. Still reading more about her on line as there is lots there.

    • Peter, I will be interviewing Mary Fragedakis and also Jennifer Wood, the only two Ward 29 candidates I have not profiled yet on their candidacy here. That will be in the first week of April. I hope to find out some answers for you. Thanks for keeping me and readers up to date in the meantime. Appreciated, as always.

  9. Thanks, Kris! I look forward to meeting you – and your readers!
    Great blog!

  10. Whoops. Sometimes my passions get carried away – it’s kind of hard for you guys to call me without a number.
    It’s (416) 467-0943.
    By the way though, I run my own first-aid & CPR business (GET TRAINED. NOW), I don’t turn down coffee, dinner or speaking requests. Call or e-mail me if you’d like me to swing by, even just to talk to you alone.

  11. Hi Kris!
    Thanks for having my security at heart – but I DID mean to leave my home number. 🙂
    I have been warned, by incumbent councillors, that some members of (certain) opposition campaigns will use the chance to harass me, but that’s something a) I accept, knowing how some candidates have played dirty in the past, and b) I’ve got thick skin.

    It’s meant as a demonstration of how far a candidate SHOULD go to serve the taxpayers of their ward.

    In plain language; EVEN THOUGH I’m not yet elected, if you have a problem, question, suggestion or just want to talk – CALL ME – whether you’re in Ward 30 or not – I really AM loyal to you.

    Volunteers? Great. Donations? Great too – but the main idea is that your councillor should be TOTALLY available to you.

    I don’t make promises idly. I follow up – and here’s the first step in proving it.
    (thank you – that couldn’t have given me a better chance to say that out loud!)

  12. Hello all!
    It is true that I withdrew from candidacy in Ward 29 – and entered the Ward 30 fray.
    Before I get to that, I’d like to say that I appreciate the attention to detail that you’re all paying to the campaign – especially Peter, who’s on top of every fact and change!
    To the meat of it; Since being invited to speak to some councillors last month, I’ve been pleased to hear that Jane Pitfield is someone they feel they can work with, something that’s much needed at City Hall.
    Coupled with the “come on down” tirade from Councillor Paula Fletcher (and some strong encouragement from friends and staffers), a run in Ward 30 seemed the best for both the campaign – and the city.
    I’m looking forward to sitting down with Kris – and any taxpayers, whether media or not, who’d like to talk.
    Please, come on over to – and don’t be afraid to ask some pointed questions.
    Thanks, Mark or (416) 467-0943.

    • Hi Mark, thanks for your comments and explanation of why you are running in Ward 30 not Ward 29. As well, while you left your home phone number in your comment I removed it because I am reluctant to post people’s home numbers. So if you want me to put you home number back in, please send it again and I will add it.
      I have not interviewed any Ward 30 candidates yet but between myself and my Town Crier colleagues we will be soon.
      Good luck with the campaign.

  13. I will like to know if she lives inside the ward or not and I wonder if she ever ran for council in the past or not?

    • Hi Peter, in terms of Mary Fragedakis I have not interviewed her yet about her candidacy in Ward 29 but will be doing so soon for the paper I work for. So I don’t know much about her yet.
      But here is the press release sent to me yesterday by her campaign team. Keep in mind I post this just as a quick intro until I can offer a profile on her in the coming weeks and it is not edited or written by me but her campaign team. Kris

      Award-winning business owner and home-grown community advocate Mary Fragedakis has set her sights on becoming the next City Councillor in Ward 29 in the fall municipal election.
      “I’m running to strengthen the community that I was born and raised in and provide better and more responsive service to residents,” said Fragedakis, whose company received a 2008 best overall performance award for small business from the city.
      “Excellent customer service is something we expect in all walks of life. As Councillor, I will meet those expectations while championing the needs of Ward 29 at City Hall.”
      The high-energy Fragedakis, who runs from Broadview to Coxwell most days as part of her fitness regime, is also a co-founder of the Broadview Community Youth Group. She started the not-for-profit organization in 2007 to engage East York youth from all walks of life in activities to build self-confidence, self-worth and a strong sense of community.
      “Times have changed and so has Ward 29. We need a Councillor with fresh skills to advocate for those services that are important to young families, seniors and businesses,” said Fragedakis. Along with working with seniors to help them stay in their homes longer, Fragedakis is committed to building a greener community with vibrant parks and neighbourhoods, strong local businesses and increased services for young families moving into East York.
      “We’ve got a great diversity of residents and businesses in Ward 29. It will be my job to listen to residents’ concerns and work with people to find solutions to make our community a better place to work and live,” said Fragedakis, the daughter of Greek immigrants who was the first in her family to obtain university degrees. She grew up in the ward on Langford and currently lives on Floyd Avenue.
      “Ward 29 is sorely in need of a fresh, talented voice and Mary Fragedakis has the business savvy, energy and passionate dedication to be an outstanding representative,” said Michael Prue, MPP for Beaches-East York and former mayor of East York. “She has very deep roots in the community and continues to be engaged daily in the issues affecting everyone in the ward.”
      Fragedakis chose to launch her campaign at Megas restaurant on the Danforth, the place where she launched her successful business-to-business conference company. “I love the Danforth and my community and I can’t think of a better way to give back to my neighbourhood than by serving on City Council,” she said.

  14. Thanks so much for that update. She is all over google and I am reading about her now.

  15. Thank you Peter for your comments, and Kris for your regularly updated information. I just wanted to address some of the questions that you raised about the Liberal forum and my candidacy.

    I have lived in the Ward for the past 11 years. My husband is a local real-estate agent and business owner on the Danforth. My two children attend school in the area where I also volunteer. I teach Sunday school, coach a local soccer team, and I am an active member of Kiwanis and the Boys and Girls Club.

    By day, I am Senior Legal Counsel for RBC. Hopefully a lot of your questions will be answered when my website ( is up and running which will be in the very near future and you can read more about my positions and the issues I feel are important.

    As for the Liberal Forum, it is not standard practice to sign a waiver and I made sure to verify that before making a decision. As you probably read in the article, the candidate that was invited needed only to give a verbal assurance whereas I was asked to sign a written agreement that was not legally-binding. I can assure you that my commitment to the community is unwavering. I will not be seeking higher office as my focus is on municipal and local issues that affect our neighbourhoods and communities.

    I have been a supporter of the Liberal Party in the past, but as we both know, municipal politics is non-partisan. I agree that having the support of this Association would have been helpful, but the process in which the Forum was organized, as a foregone conclusion, was unfair and it would have been better to have not been invited at all. They have made claims that they are not endorsing any particular candidate, yet they only invited two candidates, one who was “uninvited”.

    My focus is on local and City issues and that’s where I will put my energy over the next few weeks and months. I will speak to and meet with as many residents and groups that I can and I look forward to continuing a dialogue with you and everyone else who is ready to be engaged in what is turning out to be an exciting year for Municipal politics in Toronto.

    Thank you for your comments.

    • Hi Jennifer,
      thank you for taking up my offer to comment on your candidacy in Ward 29. I appreciate it. And Peter, I hope this answers some of your many questions. It is my intention to interview Jennifer about her candidacy soon for the Town Crier where I work and I will of course post the article here. Until then, I am adding the press release you sent so readers can get a quick intro on you in the meantime. Cheers.

      Feb 17/10 press release
      Local and long-time resident Jennifer Wood has officially declared her candidacy to be the next City Councillor of Ward 29. Understanding that she has big shoes to fill, with veteran Councillor Case Ootes retiring at the end of this term, Ms. Wood will run on a platform of fiscal responsibility, revitalization and change at City Hall.
      “Councillor Ootes has done a great job of holding the current administration to account for their increases in spending and City debt. Now that he is retiring someone needs to continue to be that voice at City Hall, and I believe that voice is me,” stated Ms. Wood. “It is important to provide essential City services to the taxpayers of this City. Maintaining our streets, our parks, our infrastructure and picking up garbage should be priority number one. The citizens of Toronto need to feel proud of their City, need to feel safe in their City, and they need to be engaged,” she continued.
      Ms. Wood has resided in Ward 29 for the past 11 years with her husband Dennis Diemert, a local Real Estate Agent and long-time Danforth business owner, and their two children Mary and John. She is currently Senior Legal Counsel, Mergers and Acquisitions for RBC, and continues to play an active role in the community.
      She spends her spare time volunteering at her children’s school, Jackman Avenue PS, managing charitable projects on behalf of the Kiwanis Club of Toronto, teaching Sunday school at her church and coaching for the Mooredale Soccer Club. She also took part in organizing a clean up day during the City strike in July 2009.
      Ms. Wood believes in the community that she lives in and wants to help foster growth, maintain safety, get the City’s finances back in order and give East Yorkers something to be proud of. She would also like to see improvements to all forms of transit, including the TTC, and to get Toronto moving again.
      “Running for City Council has been something I have always thought about. I have a desire to serve the public. As a City Councillor you can have a direct impact on the daily lives of Torontonians by helping to make their lives easier and better. As a mom, a volunteer, a taxpayer and someone who works in the City, I understand the challenges that families go through,” commented Wood.
      Jennifer Wood received her Bachelor of Science and her Law Degree from the University of Toronto and has been a practicing lawyer since she was called to the bar in 1998. Previous to working at RBC, Ms. Wood was a Medical Laboratory Technologist at a Toronto-area hospital.

  16. Today,
    Mary Fragedakis registered in ward 29. That makes six candidates so far.

  17. By the way I am probably having the same thoughts as the Liberals about Jennifer Wood. Who is she? There is still very little info about her out there. Hoping to hear more.


    • Peter,
      I interviewed Jennifer Wood for the story on the Liberal forum but not on her candidacy yet. But I will be doing so soon and report back with a profile.
      As well, a sixth candidate will be registering tomorrow for ward 29.

  18. I just read your article about Jennifer Wood not wanting to sign a waiver before going into a Liberal Party Association meeting. The waiver basically asked that she would not run against the Liberals in a future election. So why not sign it? It is standard practice. THere is a lot of strategic information that could be divulged at such a meeting and the party would not want it shared with their rivals. That is why they want to have some protection. They don’t know who Jennifer Wood is. Perhaps her party alliance is not with the Liberal party but with some other party. Of course they would want an unknown person like her to sign a waiver. It makes me wonder how dedicated therefore she is to the Ward if she is worried about not being allowed to run against the Liberal Party at a future time. Perhaps she does not realize that the City Council does not represent political parties.

    • I understand your point and it is not my job to speak for Jennifer Wood, so I will invite her to comment. But I will say that she is well aware that there’s no party system at city hall. This is her first campaign and she is reaching out to many groups for the very reason you mentioned in that it provides access to info and issues on the minds of the people she is looking to attract to vote for her.
      Again, I will ask Ms. Wood to comment herself, but my understanding from my interview with her is not so much that she plans to run provincially or federally in the future. I believe she was questioning whether or not it was a reasonable and legally-binding request for the provincial Liberal association to make that she not run in any future election provincially or federally against a Liberal. That may be a hard promise to agree to indefinitely.
      Keep in mind, the association did originally invite her and Jane Pitfield as “Liberal-friendly” candidates even though neither are card-carrying members of any party.

  19. Here are some web site links for the candidates:
    John Richardson
    As I said about Mr. Restivo I will also say about Mr. Richardson..there is no record for him of any public service to date. His web stie says”John Richardson has been too busy trying to make a living to be actively involved in municipal politics”. I guess he may as well throw his hat into the ring since he does not seem to have anything to lose. He is a lawyer but has been non practicing.

    Mr. Caldwell’s web site:
    Mr. Caldwell says he “is no fan of unions” except that “union employees and public servant employees are also VOTERS”. Well we now know what he wants from that group of people! Good luck to the city employees after giving him your vote if he ever becomes councillor!

    • Peter, I have to stay neutral as a reporter covering this race from a news perspective. But you are offering some great insight into the candidates from your own perspective and research. Thanks so much for that.

  20. The photo of Mike Restivo was emailed to the Town Crier as part of the mini-profile I wrote on him. I added a photo credit to the image on the story on my site (The Town Crier had that photo credit). I didn’t meet him in person and can’t speak to his health.

  21. Thank you for providing me with some more information. I have read quite a bit about the candidates so far. I just read Mr. Restivo’s blog/site and based on his stance I will not be voting for him. He is quite firm in his ideas about putting up road blocks for bike lanes, particularly Jarvis St. He also put up a picture of himself on his blog and he doesn’t look like anything in the picture taken by the town crier. His blog says he is in excellent health however, it is quite clear that he is a very very large man and his weight most probably is a health problem. Furthermore he has no public service record. He owned a store. There is no record of public service. Once again, it isinteresting to hear from about him but I don’t agree in anyway with his convictions thus far. I cant accept him as a potential candidate.

  22. Just to add further, Mr. Restivo thinks that TTC fare’s should be double ? I don’t need to hear any more from him. He is definitely not getting a vote.

  23. I want to vote for someone who lives in the riding. So far, I know that two of the candidates for ward 29 do not live in the ward. This is a problem for me. However, for the candidates that remain, I don’t believe that they are committed enough. I also have not heard the right ideas that I want to hear. I have looked at Mr. Caldwell’s web site and I am surprised to see that he is criticising Mr. Smitherman in it. He is not even elected. As for Mr. Richardson’s web site, I don’t see anything of any value there. No real information just talk. I don’t know what the other candidates think because I have not been able to find any info on them other than from the town crier newspaper. Who is Jennifer Wood?

    • Peter,
      I have interviewed four of the 4 of the 5 Toronto Danforth Ward 29 candidates so far for the Town Crier.
      Unless you are certain you don’t like them so far, it is very early so I would allow more time until they develop their platforms and explain their ideas before making up your mind.
      For those who haven’t read the four profiles on Jane Pitfield and John Richardson, Mike Restivo and Chris Caldwell in another STORY HERE.
      I have spoken with the fifth candidate Jennifer Wood, but not interviewed her yet.
      My advice is to email or call them or visit their websites etc to read more about them or find out when they will be holding an event, knocking on doors or at an all-candidates event so you can meet them in person.
      Click on their names for the sites I have found for them so far, Mike Restivo, Chris Caldwell , John Richardson , Jane Pitfield. I don’t have a site for Jennifer Wood yet.

    • Peter,
      in terms of which candidates live in Ward 29?
      Chris Caldwell lives in Ward 30 just a few blocks outside Ward 29. Jane Pitfield used to represent part of this ward but doesn’t live there.
      Not having interviewed Jennifer Wood yet, I don’t know where she lives. Mike Restivo has lived there his whole live. John Richardson has lived in the ward for 26 years.
      In terms of issues to base your decision on, it is March 10 and the election is Oct 25 so I am super thrilled you are so interested in making an informed choice. But give the candidates some time to form some policy not just talk. Or as I said, contact them and ask where they stand on an issue of importance to you.
      I will be interviewing all the candidates again and as soon as I have more to report, I will.

  24. Oh one more thing, Mark Dewdney withdrew from ward 29 on march 9th.

  25. OH I just checked the city website and Mark Dewdney is NOT running in ward 29. He is running in ward 30.

  26. Thanks for keeping us up to date in Ward 29!

    • Peter, my pleasure. More profiles to come soon on other Ward 29 candidates.
      In terms of this ward, what will help you decide who to vote for here?
      And regarding Mark Dewdney in Ward 30, myself or a colleague at the paper I work at, Town Crier, will be profiling candidates in that ward as well.

  27. I noticed Feb. 18 that two more candidates have registered: Jennifer Wood and Mark Dewdney. So along with Chris Caldwell, Mike Restivo, John Richardson and Jane Pitfield there are now 6 candidates.

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