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Jane Farrow bids for seat on Toronto City Council

Lesbian urban activist will take on Paula Fletcher in Ward 30

Jane Farrow (right) leads a 2013 Jane’s Walk exploring gentrification and neighbourhood change in the Church-Wellesley Village. Credit: Courtesy of Jane Farrow

Author, activist, radio host, former Xtra contributor and one-time city hall insider Jane Farrow has launched a campaign to win the Ward 30 Toronto City Council seat held by Councillor Paula Fletcher since 2003.

Farrow announced her candidacy with the tagline “progressive, independent, fabulous” on her Twitter account (@FarrowJane) after filing her nomination papers May 20.

“I think it’s time for change,” Farrow tells Xtra. “People really want to, I think, get out of the partisan politics business. I think they want to have constructive dialogues that lead to action.”

Ward 30 was already a hot race before Farrow’s announcement. The left-leaning Fletcher is set to rematch against broadcast personality Liz West, who’s been described as a conservative. In 2010, Fletcher retained her seat by just 259 votes. “It’s very obvious in this particular riding there’s an appetite for change,” Farrow says. “What I’m doing is stepping forward into a very big gap — a progressive form of change.”

Farrow says she isn’t worried about splitting the progressive vote with Fletcher.

“There’s a lot more colours in progressive than just orange,” she says. “I’ve been approached by hundreds of people and asked to run in this ward. We live in a democracy. People are allowed to declare and get in, and I don’t have to ask permission from a party.”

Farrow says that Fletcher has perpetuated a left-right divide that’s led to gridlock at city hall and that she can help build consensus on issues that matter. For two years, Farrow was executive assistant to Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, where she helped form the “mighty middle” coalition of councillors who held the balance of power on council.

When asked what she loves about her neighbourhood, Farrow has a quick answer: “It feels like Leslieville is the Toronto that we really, as a city, want to live in. It’s diverse, it’s vibrant, it’s got a little bit of edge, it’s got amazing parks, it’s got lakeshore, it’s got fantastic restaurants. And it’s very gay-positive,” she says.