Who will fill outgoing Councillor Feldman’s shoes?
(Written for Town Crier Oct. Eight)
It was already going to be a packed race, but when longtime York-Centre councillor Mike Feldman announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, more candidates jumped on board for Ward 10.
Now, a dizzying dozen people are vying for your vote in Ward 10.
The victor on Oct. 25 will have his or her hands full this coming term, with ongoing ward issues like the planned Etobicoke-Finch West Light Rail line, vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur’s planned plant expansion at Dufferin and Steeles, and development pressures such as the proposal to redevelop the Bathurst Manor plaza. The new councillor will also need to address the needs of a rapidly growing senior population.
Ward 10 candidates told the Town Crier their priorities range from crime reduction to better management of the city’s finances, reducing gridlock and creating more engaged public process for local developments.
So who will be victorious on Oct. 25?
Igor Toutchinski has a real shot. He ran against Councillor Feldman in 2006 coming second and in 2007 he ran for the Progressive Conservatives in York Centre, garnering 32 percent of the vote for a second place finish.
He also has some name recognition in York-Centre’s large Russian population as he co-founded the Russian Canadian Broadcasting Company 18 years ago.
Another strong candidate is current York-Centre school trustee James Pasternak, first elected to the Toronto District School Board in 2006.
The former Queen’s Park policy analyst has also done constituency work at the federal level, and has a degree on political science and is a public relations consultant. If elected as the councillor, one of his priorities is overseeing work on the proposed Bathurst-Finch multi-service community hub.
Also in the forefront is Nancy Oomen, who has a decade of experience as Councillor Feldman’s executive assistant.
She’d rather see more subways than streetcar lines, if the funding is there, and Oomen wants to see more investment in road infrastructure.
Oomen has her old boss Feldman’s endorsement, more support came from former mayor Mel Lastman, and various other councillors.
Konstantin Toubis is another strong candidate with strong ties to the Russian and Jewish communities that make up a strong portion of the ward’s residents.
He is president of an educational and recreational centre in the Antibes Community Centre, and coordinator of the Association of Soviet Jewry in Canada. He’s active in charities and programs for new immigrants, low-income families, youth and seniors.
The married father of three says some of his priorities are increased traffic safety and a greater community police presence.
The daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors, Magda Gondor Berkovits has some experience in politics, having worked in the former Trinity-Spadina MP Aideen Nicholson’s constituency office.
“I saw how much good you can do from a professional level just by being a lowly constituency office manager,” said Berkovits, who ran in the same ward in 2006. “You can open doors for people.”
Now she wants to help people navigate everything from better garbage collection, to neighbourhood revitalization and would push to connect the Sheppard subway line to Downsview Station.
Brian Shifman is also making a strong push. As the executive director of Smart Commute North Toronto his non-profit organization is focused on reducing traffic congestion.
He’d like to have quarterly town hall meetings in the ward to keep people engaged.
“Nothing frustrates people more than learning about a development after it’s already going through,” he told the Town Crier.
Rounding out the pack in this race are:
Robert Freedland, A former real estate agent and current addictions counsellor, Freedland calls himself the transit advocate. With transit being the biggest expenditure in the city, he says he’ll fight tooth and nail against “boondoggle projects” like the St. Clair right of way and the Sheppard subway line. His top priority is speed and reliability, which he says can be accomplished for a fraction of the spending currently being invested.
Candidate Jarred Friedman is an urban planner who worked for the City of Edmonton. He’d like to help establish a Business Improvement Area and have a Ward 10 community association that can keep residents up to date on ward-wide issues not just neighbourhood projects.
Longtime North Yorker Edward Zaretsky has said if elected he’d fight to eliminate Toronto’s vehicle registration tax, a garbage tax and overtime pay for civic employees.
The retiree was an engineer, went into the insurance business and a longtime volunteer for many hospitals and was the past president of Sterling Lodge for B’nai Brith.
According to his website, candidate Eric Plant has a degree in international relations, is a licenced health insurance salesman. On his website he states good planning and a strong municipal government can make a difference in people’s lives.
Drago Banovic has a background in mechanical and electrical engineering. He’s worked on green design and construction of buildings. Banovic served with the Canadian Forces for 11 years. He’s pushing for multi-year budgeting at city hall, supports expanded transit to the suburbs and wants to build a city with a heart.
No information could be found on candidate Joseph Cohen.