At 22, she’s the youngest contender in the Ward 42 council race.
Ruth Tecle, a Blessed Mother Teresa alum, is up against incumbent Raymond Cho and seven others in the Oct. 25 municipal election.
“On one hand people would see me being young as a disadvantage but I think the neighbourhood is ready for a change,” Tecle says. “I’ve always been involved in my community.”
She may be young and doesn’t have a campaign manager, graphic designer or large team like her opponents, Tecle says, but she’s not letting that stop her from getting her message out.
“I’m not as polished as the rest of the candidates, but I’ve been learning and hopefully people will see that,” Tecle says.
With a degree in urban and regional planning from Ryerson University, she says making better use of area schools is an important step in improving her ward.
“We should use schools as community hubs, which is already a provincial mandate but I don’t think they’re living up to it,” Tecle says.
Doing that, she says, would ease the city’s burden of building community centres and would benefit an area like Morningside Heights, which doesn’t have a recreational facility.
Tecle realized Scarborough schools were lacking in areas like arts after visiting other Toronto schools, she says. This summer, she created a program called Footsteps for kids age 10 to 15, which allowed kids in the neighbourhood to experience things they normally wouldn’t be able to.
“There is all the negative attention placed on youth within our community, yet there are so many of them doing great things,” says Tecle.
Planning goes beyond making better use of schools during off hours, she says.
“Land use is connected to every issue,” Tecle says. “Any policy that’s out there, whether it involves transportation, affordable housing, or municipal finance, is related to how we as a city use the land we choose to develop on.”
Tecle, the only woman running in Ward 42, is pushing for more funding into planning in hopes of creating more revenue for the community.
“It’s about expanding the tax base instead of the tax burden,” she says.