Canada's Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 40) city council candidates speak

Friday, November 3, 2006

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward's councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto's ridings is Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 40). One candidate responded to Wikinews' requests for an interview. This ward's candidates include Sunny Eren, Norm Kelly (incumbent), George Pappas, and Winston Ramjeet.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Sunny Eren

37-year-old Sunny Eren is a System Analyst and Records Manager at the CAAT Pension Plan.

Q: Describe the three most important issues in your campaign.

A: I think the three most important issues facing my ward are; Infrastructure/TTC services, Youth and Poverty. Since amalgamation the roads and TTC have been failing to meet the demands of a growing city. The city has grown by leaps and bounds and yet the only expansion has been the Sheppard Subway Line. In a stop gap effort to resolve the demand versus capacity issue, the city has elected to put more buses on the street. This lack of expansion with increased demand has led to only one outcome: more cars on the road with more traffic, pollution and aggravation. Our roads were never designed to handle the volume we have now, which is the reason for the current sorry state of repair. I feel that the youth have been alienated in our city with lack of parks and recreational spaces, which give young people a more robust life. These people represent our future after all. Finally, crime is important issue - I do feel that poverty feeds into a cycle and that proper support to help people rise out of poverty, along with engaging our youth, will have an effect of lowering crime.

Q: What one election issue do you feel is most relevant to your ward in this election?

A: To me TTC is one of the greatest issues facing our Ward; we all need a strong and connected public transit. It reduces pollution, traffic, and congestion. It's the primary means of transport for the majority of our Ward's citizens. People from the suburbs ride it through our Ward, and as the GTA increases in population, so too must the TTC expand. Yet I feel it's been stagnating, and it's been a growing problem for a while now.

Q: Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process?

A: I felt that I could no longer in good conscience just sit back and watch the city waste away, that I needed to do something to change the city for the better. I know a lot of people love to sit and complain but I felt it would be better to actually try to make a difference. That's why I threw my name in for city Councillor.

Q: Why do you want to represent this particular ward on council?

A: This is where I live, I have my home here, and it is where my wife and I decided to start our life together. I intend to start a family and raise my children. Sure I could run in any Ward especially if there is no incumbent but this is where I am and this is where I want to change things.

Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: Currently I sit on the Board of Directors of Streetlights. It's a non-profit charity that helps women escape prostitution and break the cycle of living in such a lifestyle. I also sit on the board of directors in my condominium corporation, where I reside. I have been involved in other activities such as raising money for the Hospital for Sick Children through a convention (Anime North) I helped put on. Recently I have been helping different Chinese community groups secure volunteers and get their issues publicized.

Q: Which council decision (since the 2003 election) do you feel the city/your ward should be most proud of, and which was least desirable?

A: Well number one is the pay raise. Council voting itself a pay raise when the city is experiencing a budget crunch was not the best idea. I do think the St. Clair right of way was a good idea but the public felt disenfranchised from the discussion of the issue. People need to feel they have a say in the decision making.

Q: Which council decision (since the 2003 election) do you feel the city/your ward should be most proud of, and which was least desirable?

A: Well number one is the pay raise, not only did the same council voted themselves a pay raise which despite the city is in a budget crunch was not the best idea. I do think the St. Clair right of way was a nice idea but the public felt disenfranchised to the political process and thus rejected that idea. I do endorse the City's Bike Plan and Clean up the City initiatives, but I think the city should get a failing grade when it came down to the Budget and Garbage issue.

Q: If you were elected as a "rookie" councillor, what would you bring to the table beyond the incumbent?

A: Well first off I am quite young and I believe that I represent the Ward not myself. I intend to reach out to the community and try to meet everyone and help them. I don't belong to any network of old boys in a back room. I have youth, energy and a stubborn determination to really try to help people. In this way I can only hope to meet the needs and wants of everyone in my Ward. That why I think I am the better choice for Ward 40.

Q: What does Toronto mean to you?

A: Well Toronto is my home, I have spent time in other cities in Asia and North America, but Toronto is where I feel safe and at home. I truly believe Canada is the best country in the world and that Toronto is the best city within Canada.