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Who will challenge current council?

Speculation swirling for 2010 municipal election

WHOSE SEATS ARE THESE? Speculation has already started about the 2010 municipal election: Which current councillors will run? Who should run against them? What'll council chambers look like after the race? We'd like to know what you think. Visit our Twitter page at or email (Photo illustration by Shadi Raoufi/Vaughan Today)

The 2010 municipal election is still a year and a half away.

That much is certain.

What isn’t is who will vie for the nine seats on city council, though speculation has been running high in recent months and shows no sign of cooling off.

“It’s just the beginning of summer ’09, and I figure this time next year you’re probably not going to have all the players on the landscape,” says Elliot Silverstein, a member Vaughan’s Democratic Taskforce and a former municipal candidate. “Various people are trying to push around different names. It’s just so early.”

Silverstein is one of a long list of people being touted as potential contenders in 2010, which he says is flattering. But, he adds, he hasn’t made up his mind yet.

Radio personality and co-organizer of SavourVaughan Elvira Caria, also mentioned in election speculation, says she’d like to see change come to city hall and would like to see Silverstein run.

“I’d like to see the Julian Fantinos run,” she says. “I would absolutely love to see somebody like the Sam Ciccolinis of the world run, the Ralph Capoccis of the world run, . . . the Tony Gencos, the Elliott Silversteins, the Noor Dins, the Ahmadiyya community people.

New faces needed, activists agree

“I’d love to see new faces, fresh faces, people that don’t have vendettas: there’s so many fantastic people I can name off that would be amazing on council,” she adds. “And we need more of a racial representation, . . . more diverse representation culturally, racially, ethnically. It’s unbalanced right now.”

Like Silverstein, Caria has supporters should she choose to throw her name into Vaughan’s political ring. She says it’s simply too soon to commit.

“This needs to be played out a little bit further,” she says. “I want to see who runs for mayor.

“That will determine where I go from there.”

The marquee race in the 2010 election will be the mayoral contest, a contest that in many ways is already underway.

Where will current council be?

Mayor Linda Jackson
“I’m running for sure, but I’m not going to speculate on who may be running against me,” Jackson said. “I’m focusing on my race, but presently my focus is on running the City of Vaughan, as the election is almost 18 months away.”

Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio
The word is Frustaglio will run for re-election as regional councillor. Frustaglio did not respond to Vaughan Today’s queries by press time.

Regional Councillor Mario Ferri
Though speculation is Ferri has his eye on the mayor’s chair, he likely won’t run for the top job if OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino or former mayor Michael DiBiase enter the race. If either of them do, look for Ferri to seek re-election as regional councillor. Ferri did not respond to Vaughan Today’s queries by press time.

Regional Councillor Gino Rosati
“To be honest, I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but on the surface and most likely, I will be running for the same position,” Rosati said.
What about a run for mayor? “Most likely not. I guess in politics you can never say never on anything.

Ward 1 councillor Peter Meffe
Word is Meffe has ambitions for a regional councillor’s seat, but probably won’t run for the higher position until current Regional Councillor Mario Ferri moves on. The speculation is Meffe will seek re-election as Ward 1 councillor. Meffe did not respond to Vaughan Today’s queries by press time.

Ward 2 councillor Tony Carella
“I love my job and I’m inclined to run for councillor of Ward 2 once again,” Carella said.

Ward 3 councillor Bernie DiVona
The speculation is DiVona will run again for re-election as Ward 3 councillor. DiVona did not respond to Vaughan Today’s queries by press time.

Ward 4 councillor Sandra Yeung Racco
“It is way too early to be making a decision or even thinking about it,” Racco said. “When the time comes for me to make the decision regarding the 2010 election, I will do so then.
“For now, I am happy to continue my work to make our community a better place to live, work and play in.”

Ward 5 councillor Alan Shefman
“I love my current job, so I guess I will run again in Ward 5 — but things may change,” Shefman said. “Ask me again in a few months.”

“I’m running for sure, but I’m not going to speculate on who may be running against me,” Mayor Linda Jackson says in an email.

There’s no shortage of names belonging to potential opponents being bandied about, including OPP Commissioner Fantino, former mayor Michael DiBiase, former MPP Mario Racco and Regional Councillor Mario Ferri.

Court may decide mayor’s race entries

Jackson and DiBiase are currently facing legal challenges stemming from alleged campaign finance irregularities in the 2006 race, and could be barred from running next year if found guilty.

“The ramifications of the court challenges . . . with Jackson and DiBiase, it’s also going to be very telling,” Silverstein says. “If people can’t run because they’ve been found guilty, it opens a whole playing field.”

Vaughan in Motion co-founder Peter Badali, another talked-about potential candidate, says the big story in the looming election will be whether Fantino runs.

“I saw him (recently) at a golf tournament and one of my colleagues was brash enough to ask (Fantino),” Badali says. “And you know what, he didn’t say no.”

For his part, Badali says he won’t run as long as Councillor Peter Meffe stays in Ward 1.

“When he decides to move on to regional councillor, then you’ve got a story with me,” he says. “I don’t think he’s going to go to regional, the last time I spoke to him, anyway.”

York Catholic District School Board trustee Victor Schiralli says his name will be on the 2010 ballot, leaving the door open for a possible council run.

“If I told you yes or no right now, it’s a tough one,” he says. “But my name will be on one sign, whether it’s at the school board level or at the council level. That is a certainty.”

Less sure is Marilyn Iafrate, president of Vaughan Cares. Iafrate, who ran against Meffe in Ward 1 in the 2006 election, says support for another campaign in her name is high.

“I’ve been asked by a gazillion people and I keep saying if the optics out there are like they are now, I have to,” she says. “If people all of a sudden come January 1 are in love with their members of council and they’re all happy with everything that’s happening, I would be foolish to upset the apple cart.

“I never rule anything out.”

Iafrate finished second in the Ward 1 race, ahead of Mary Ruffolo, a former city employee and well-known city hall activist.

Ruffolo’s husband Gino was also in the 2006 race, but withdrew his name before the election.

“We have not decided yet on what our involvement in the 2010 election will be,” he says in an email, adding he predicts a significant change in the look of the next council.

Like him, change is on the minds of Caria, Schiralli, Iafrate and Silverstein.

“I think that there needs to be some element of fresh voices, fresh vision,” Silverstein says. “And when I say fresh, I mean people who are not veterans of the political process.

“You need people who are coming in first time around with a different vision — a business perspective, a community perspective and so forth — that brings a different mindset to it that really pushes the norm.”

Other notable names that have been brought up in election speculation include: Ahmadiyya Muslim group senior vice-president Naseem Mahdi, community activist Deb Shulte, Vaughan Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Deborah Bonk, active community volunteer Naseer Ahmad, Jackson’s husband and political operative Mario Campese, and 2008 federal Conservative candidate Richard Lorello.

Vaughan Today
In print: July 3, 2009, page 1
Online: July 2, 2009 [link]