A roar of support greeted Ward 29/Toronto-Danforth city council candidate Jennifer Wood when she entered Whistler’s Grille on Broadview Avenue tonight — even though she was not the victor.
The first-time candidate garnered 4,269 votes, about 24 per cent of the total. That was only 697 votes behind political veteran Jane Pitfield. Mary Fragedakis placed first, with 7,430 votes.
“We ran an extremely good campaign and I have an amazing team of wonderful volunteers,” said Wood, 47. “I learned a lot about our city and our community. I don’t think it’ll be the end of my political career. I think it’s just the beginning, so it’s all good.”
A lawyer and regular contributor to the East York community through graffiti cleanups and volunteer work, it was Wood’s local commitment and relationship with residents that supporters say got her this far. Her campaign manager, Barry Peters, is the former executive assistant to retired councillor Case Ootes. He says Wood’s dedication made his job a breeze.
“I’ve never taken on a full campaign on my own before,” said Peters, 29. “To have a great candidate like Jennifer, she makes it easy. You don’t have to think. She just does what you need her to do. She got out there and worked hard every day.”
When asked about newly elected Toronto-Danforth city councillor Fragedakis, Wood said she is hopeful for the ward she currently calls home.
“Mary is a very strong member of our community who really cares about the community,” she said. “I think she ran for the right reasons, and I’m very happy about a local candidate winning.”
Looking ahead, Wood believes newly elected Toronto mayor Rob Ford will bring change to city council.
“People were very frustrated with about the current administration being not fiscally responsible, and it’s a response to that. I think Mr. Ford has got some challenges ahead of him in terms of co-operating with council, but I wish him well,” she said.
“I think that as long as he is a strong consensus builder and can benefit from the experiences of some of the other members of council, he will do just fine. “
With endorsements from four major news organizations, including the Toronto Star, political rookie Wood says the full support of friends and family made the election a positive experience, and she’ll likely do it again.