Taking success for granted can sometimes lead to complacency. As a young boy growing up in Jamaica and Toronto, councillor Michael Thompson’s mother would always remind him that hard work breeds success and laziness leads to mediocrity.
Re-elected with the highest number of votes and the largest margin of victory in the last two municipal elections doesn’t mean that Thompson is going to relax and take things easy leading up to the October 27 elections.
On the contrary, he’s out in his Scarborough Centre community campaigning daily and listening to residents’ concerns.
“One of the candidates running against me resides outside the community and the other is yet to put out any literature,” said Thompson. “That’s not my business. I am out in the neighbourhood putting up signs and talking to people. I am not making assumptions and taking a historical position that because something good happened before, it will continue to happen again. This is a competition for a position. The constituents are aware of who I am and the work I have done on their behalf. I will continue to advance their interests and provide leadership.”
He said enhanced job creation for young people and transit investments are high among the community’s concerns.
Thompson, who has been fighting for a Scarborough subway for the past nine years, supports replacing the aging Scarborough Rapid Transit line with an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway instead of light rail.
“Hopefully, Scarborough will get its subway since that’s really important,” he said.
Last year, Toronto city council voted to build a subway rather than an LRT.
An outspoken community safety advocate, Thompson played pivotal roles in the establishment of the Wexford Heights Business Improvement Area in 2004, which hosts the popular Taste of Lawrence East summer festival. He also launched the “Scarborough Rocks” community image campaign and hosts regular community events and town hall meetings.
As chair of the Scarborough Community Council in 2006, he led the campaign to create the first-ever Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) strategy for Scarborough that promised to significantly expand and enhance public transit services.
Thompson has been advocating for transit-dedicated taxes to his constituents for the past eight years.
“People in my community have not said they oppose taxes,” he said. “What they are saying is that if there is a tax increase, they want to see it spent on things it’s designed for. At the same time, they want to ensure that there are not extensive increases.”
A graduate of Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate and Concordia University where he received an Economics degree, Thompson worked in the financial services industry and later established a business services firm prior to entering politics.
He hopes the shenanigans that overshadowed the important issues at city hall will not emerge in the new term of council.
“I have always maintained the ability to work with every member of council,” said Thompson, who is the Toronto Police Services Board vice-chair. “I get along with them and I have been able to work with councillors from all political spectrums. I think it will be helpful to see us focus on that and deal with issues that are important to residents and the city. Personal issues that become a focus of attention are not good for business and not conducive to growth.”
Thompson admitted he gave some consideration to entering the mayoral race.
“I thought about it, but I just felt now is not the right time for me,” he said. “It’s all about timing and that is all I would say.”
The Ward 37 incumbent captured 87.1 per cent and 83.6 per cent of the votes in the 2006 and 2010 elections, respectively.