During the 2003 provincial election campaign, Charm Darby’s then 12-year-old daughter wanted to know why the candidates were mainly of one race and sex.
“I gave her a litany of excuses before it dawned on me that I was providing her with the wrong messages,” the single mother recounted.
Darby ran in the 2006 municipal elections, finishing third in Eglinton-Lawrence (Ward 16) with 10.3 per cent of the votes behind incumbent Karen Stintz and Albert Pantaleo.
“I ran to prove to her that anyone can participate in the democratic process if they have a desire to contribute to the community,” said Darby. “That was my only reason.”
With Stintz pulling out of the mayoral contest last August and announcing that she was quitting politics, Darby entered the crowded field of 16 candidates vying to represent the ward.
“Knowing how difficult it is to unseat an incumbent, I wouldn’t have put my hat in the ring,” she said.
An active member of St. Clements Church and Stanley Knowles Co-operative where she resides, Darby hopes to use her financial experience and familiarity with the neighbourhood that has been her home for 27 years to convince constituents that she is the best choice to represent them at City Hall.
“You have to not only want to get elected, but you must have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish if elected,” said Jamaican-born Darby, who is a financial adviser and planner at one of Canada’s largest financial institutions. “I have a good idea of the things I want to achieve for this ward. In the past, I ran because I could and because I wanted to show my daughter what the process of democracy was. I am now running because I know the city needs people with financial experience that can speak to fiscal responsibility.”
Nirmala Armstrong hopes the third time is a charm.
With Markham’s longest-serving councillor, Gordon Landon, retiring from politics after serving as regional councillor since 1988, Armstrong sees an opening and is counting on constituents to elect her to public office.
She was rejected in her bid to become a Markham city councillor eight years ago and a regional councillor in 2010.
In the last municipal elections, Armstrong finished fifth among nine candidates with 23,214 votes.
“I am now more fully aware of the residents’ issues and what I need to do to address them,” said the mother of four and legal practitioner. “Markham is currently in need of a balanced approach. This is clearly evident through the controversial GTA centre. My legal acumen and my extensive community involvement place me in a good position to bring value to residents in their tax dollars. That’s balance.”
Migrating to Canada from Jamaica 25 years ago, first-time candidate, Andre Levy, is running for city council in Brampton Wards 3 and 4.
“We need fresh ideas at city hall and we need to get back to serving the people of this city and moving it forward,” he said. “Those are some of my reasons for running in this election.”
Levy said inadequate job creation is high among residents’ concerns in rapidly-growing Brampton.
“That’s what I hear when I knock on doors,” he said. “Far too many people have to leave here to get jobs, thus creating gridlock on Highway 410.”
Michelle Shaw is among seven candidates running for regional councillor in Brampton Wards 9 & 10.
The community program director at Brampton Safe City agrees that the suburban city needs to attract more businesses.
“We can no longer continue to be a ‘bedroom community’ where residents leave town every morning to go to their jobs elsewhere,” said the founder of JET Mentors, which is a grassroots volunteer-driven organization. “It’s time the city create incentives and opportunities to attract strong and economically charged businesses here so that our residents and future generations can find rewarding jobs in their own city.”
A graduate of the University of Windsor, Shaw has successfully managed the Brampton Neighbourhood Watch program since 2008 and co-ordinated basketball camps in the city with her husband.
“I am running in this election because I am committed to bringing the change that’s needed in Brampton to manage the complex issues we face,” she said. “My experience at Brampton Safe City in forming dynamic partnerships, listening to residents, being fiscally responsible, open minded, energetic and decisive will serve well on Brampton city council where the interests of citizens, government and private industry must come together to make Brampton an efficient and well-run city.”