Second time not the charm for Dhanani

In the city council race for Ward 26/Don Valley West, Mohamed Dhanani supporters took the two-time candidate’s defeat in stride.

Fifteen minutes after the polls closed, over a hundred Thorncliffe-area residents exchanged hugs, handshakes and pats on the back for efforts during Dhanani’s campaign. 

Dhanani lost his initial 2006 bid for council to John Parker, a scenario repeated again tonight. Dhanani received 28 per cent of the total vote, with 5,627 ballots, losing to incumbent Parker by just 576 votes and runner-up Jon Burnside by fewer still.

“I’m really proud of the campaign we ran,” Dhanani said. “We had fantastic volunteers.”

Scrutineers, seniors, young families and high school students were at the Thorncliffe Banquet Hall in the East York Town Centre Monday night for Dhanani’s gathering. 

The Yale graduate and former Flemingdon Park resident thanked his supporters and praised their success for what he called a “smart campaign.”

“It’s a tough loss. It always is,” he said. “But… we’ll wake up tomorrow and I’ll (continue the) fight, working hard to make this city the best city in the world.”

Co-campaign manager Abdul Madhani acknowledged that one of the challenges for Dhanani was reaching out to Ward 26’s diverse neighbourhoods, composed of the more affluent suburbs of Leaside and Wynford/Concorde, and the high-rise communities of Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park, with large numbers of immigrant families where Dhanani was expected to gain much support.

“We knew that for Dhanani to make inroads (into Leaside) was not going to be easy,” Madhani said. “We had to make the message loud and clear.”

If he hadn’t lost to Parker, Dhanani would have been the city’s first Muslim councillor.

Campaign worker Iqbal Dewji called the candidate a “minority among minorities.” 

He considered Dhanani’s campaign to be “very reinforcing,” and one that appealed to people because he spoke about the “bigger picture” facing the ward.

“He is a person that can actually reach out to those (under-represented) communities,” Dewji said. 

Supporter Alnoor Sayani remained hopeful about the candidate’s future plans, which Dhanani has only confirmed as spending time with his newborn son, Ali. 

“When you’re so passionate about what you believe in, it’s not about quitting,” Sayani said. “It’s about succeeding next time.”