We were very reluctant to give any endorsements out in this upcoming Toronto election, and we will not be endorsing anyone in the councillor’s race. All of those running for city counsel have shown a great interest in turning around this ward which has stagnated for years under Joe Pantalone. They are all dedicated to listening to what goes on in the area, and increasing the level of communication with local citizens to some degree. We do, however, have quite a different opinion on the Toronto District School Board race, and we are strongly supporting Michael Sims and encouraging others to do the same.
We met Michael a few months ago when he reached out to us, having read the blog. We learned about the position of TDSB trustee from him and did a short profile of him on the blog. We then thought it fair to reach out to Chris Bolton, his incumbent opponent, and invited him to the debate on October 5th, as well as mentioning to him at the time that we’d be happy to do a profile of him. Bolton did attend the debate, with barely any notice, and didn’t follow up with us about the profile.
What has impressed us about Michael is how he is willing to shake things up and his willingness to explore and use technology to embrace change. Michael got up at the debate and called out Mr. Bolton for distributing his campaign flyers through Maria Pantalone’s (Joe’s sister) school in the area – something Mr. Bolton has apologized for and said was a mistake.
We feel he is dismissive of local concerns. In questions from the local paper, the Gleaner, “Bolton refused to comment directly on any of Sims’ accusations. ‘It’s not news, it’s been withdrawn, the letter basically says it,” said Bolton. “What we should be concentrating on is … policy.'” The TDSB, of which Mr. Bolton is vice-chair, decided to take no action against him for the breach, and it doesn’t seem clear that Mr Bolton didn’t make that decision himself.
Our experience with Chris, as bloggers and constituents in his ward, mirror the Gleaner’s experience. We had a reader submit a question to us about him and his background, which we passed on to Chris. It was essentially a simple issue that needed clarification but we also received a similar terse reply – with little or no substance, and no follow-up.
It also concerns us that he has full support from another candidate running in the riding, which Sean McCormick has pointed out and asked to end, and that offers significant advantage. There is a large funding difference between a city council candidate and a TDSB candidate. A donation to a candidate for city council comes with up to 75% tax rebate, while a donation to a TDSB candidate offers no rebate. So, by putting names on signs, thus relieving Mr. Bolton of thousands of dollars of expenses not offered to Mr. Sims, the election is unfairly stacked – not exactly democratic.
But we wouldn’t endorse someone just based on the actions of the incumbent. Michael has been blogging about his experience running and has offered some good ideas. As a software developer (and I run a small software company), he proposed the idea of modernizing parental participation using something similar to bug-tracking software, where people can file issues, and watch to see whether they get resolved. He has also proposed using open source software to reduce some of the expenses in local schools. If you read his blog, he shows a curiosity to look into new ideas for improving the way things are, which we like.
So, even if you don’t have kids in the school board, you want someone who represents the area, and someone who won’t be dismissive of the local concerns. We endorse Michael Sims for TDSB.