By RON FANFAIR
Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee James Pasternak, one of the strongest supporters of the Africentric Alternative School, is running for Toronto City Council.
The York Centre trustee, who filed his nomination papers last week, is contesting the Ward 10 (York Centre) seat currently held by former deputy mayor, Mike Feldman.
“It is clear that Toronto has lost its way,” said Pasternak who has lived in the riding for the past two decades. “There is an urgent need for new ideas and new approaches to the problems that we face. While Toronto is a great place to live and work, we must always be thinking about urban renewal and restoring public confidence.”
Pasternak cited the congested public transportation and crumbling infrastructure among the issues that he will address in his campaign. Municipal elections take place on October 25.
“When you look around, it’s clear that the transportation grid has not been handled in the most effective way,” said Pasternak. “The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is at capacity and getting prohibitively expensive. If you compare a subway map today with one 30 years ago, you will find it’s not different with the exception of the Sheppard extension…The roads, sewage system and broken water mains are also a concern.
“The city has to be more robust in the marginalized communities and work closely with schools and community activists and really reach out in many ways. The time has come for trustees on the school board to jump up at city hall and be a voice for that.”
Pasternak was elected to the TDSB four years ago, winning over 50 per cent of the popular vote. During that period, he has chaired the Audit and Special Education committees. He has also sat on numerous standing and ad hoc committees and brought motions to the TDSB to start an alumni association, have the school board participate in the organizing of the Pan Am games and provide seniors a greater voice in policies that affect adult education.
In addition, Pasternak has been a strong advocate of fiscal responsibility, supporting the reduction of trustee office budgets by 10 per cent and a balanced budget, and a tireless voice for students with special needs and the funding of TDSB pools.
“The city showed very little interest in coming to the table to talk about how we could keep pools open,” he said. “They said they had no money, yet they have allocated $37 million for an aquatic centre for the Pan Am Games.”
In August 2008 when Ward 5 residents experienced a devastating propane explosion, Pasternak was on the scene to help residents and restore confidence.
A graduate of Leaside High School, Pasternak has degrees from York University, the University of Western Ontario and the London School of Economics and Political Science.