Ward 27 candidates – looking hopeful perched behind tables at the all-candidates open house at the 519 Church Street Community Centre Thursday night – are making their final pitch to the community this weekend as the municipal election heads into the home stretch.
The meeting was the last chance voters could put their tough questions to the candidates running for city council while they’re all in one room.
Of the 15 candidates in the ward, 11 candidates were in attendance at the informal meet-and-greet event, including Enza Anderson, Robert Meynell, Kristyn Wong-Tam, Ella Rebanks, Chris Tindal, Ken Chan, Joel Dick, Ben Bergen, Gary Leroux, Susan Gapka and Ram Narula.
Chan, who had the flashiest table, decked out with balloons, rainbow flags and blue signage, said people are really upset with how things have been run at city hall. He’s been telling voters to cast their ballot based on what kind of city they want to live in.
As he goes door-to-door canvassing, transportation seems to be the major issue on voters’ minds, Chan said.
“A key aspect of that is affordability,” he said. “With the rising cost of fuel and TTC, people want decision-makers at city hall, as well as the federal and provincial governments, to understand one thing, that people need to get around the city.”
Transportation is a major issue, but it’s only part of the problem, said Wong-Tam. The bigger problem is the growing income disparity. About 20 percent of the population in Ward 27 makes less than $10,000 each year.
“I’m hearing, ‘I can’t get an apartment,’ ‘I have $200 to live on,’ ‘I don’t have a dental plan,’ ‘I’m losing my teeth,’” she said. “Seniors are living in the dark because hydro bills are so high.”
Anderson said she hopes she can change voters’ negative opinions about politicians. She hates hearing that a voter is lost to apathy and frustration at being ignored.
“People are fed up with politicians who are just out for themselves, that don’t return calls, they don’t address issues, and people just feel like they’re not being heard,” she said.
Meynell, who was packing up to leave the meeting at around 7:30 pm, said he was disappointed with the turnout. He didn’t speak to a single voter all evening.
“It’s possibly because of bad promotion,” he said. “I only heard about this event on Monday. I cancelled another event to come here, so I’m doubly disappointed.”
Although voters have been engaged on doorsteps, many tell Meynell they plan to make their decision on Sunday night.
Smiling and shaking hands at the very back of the room, Tindal said this election will likely be decided over the next couple days.
“What we’re hearing at the door is an extremely split electorate between many of the strong candidates in this ward,” he said. “The vast majority of voters are undecided because they’ve all been focusing on the mayoral race.
“So this election could be decided in these last few days.”