There were tears, hugs, handshakes and big smiles at Ward 42 candidate Neethan Shan’s election HQ Monday night.
Shan took second place behind 19-year incumbent councillor Raymond Cho.
Cho won with 53 per cent of the vote while Shan finished with 32 per cent.
“I know a lot of people are sad today, but I think we won this election,” Shan said in his consession speech. “Today we have shown that when people from different communities come together, we can mobilize and get support from all walks of life.”
The cheers were deafening as Shan’s diverse team of over 150 local volunteers crammed into his small headquarters at Finch Avenue East and Tapscott Road.
“I’m a bad politician because I get emotional,” said Shan, his eyes welling with tears as he thanked his wife for her support over the 10-month process.
“Just because we couldn’t reach the goal at hand doesn’t mean we can’t reach the goals we have for the issues of the city,” said campaign manager Andrea Moffat.
“To councillor Cho, congratulations to you,” Shan said. “We hope that you are more active within the community to ensure it’s served better. I promise that I will help along the way to do what we have to do, but I will also challenge him if he isn’t doing what the community needs.”
The results came as a shock to Shan supporters. He was endorsed by the Toronto Star, NOW Magazine and Scarborough Mirror.
“[The results] could’ve been better,” said Kandeepan Kenga, Shan’s election day manager. “All these [volunteers] worked so hard hoping he could make a change.”
Shan is a strong supporter of at-risk youth and works in many schools across Malvern and Markham as a youth outreach worker. He also helped form many strategies and organizations, including the Malvern Community Coalition, Image Campaign, Youth Cabinet and Law and Order team. After being active in the Malvern community and an executive director of Council of Agencies of South Asians, Shan was, as many believed, the best representative of the growing population of Tamils in Scarborough.
“The next four years are going to be critical,” Shan said. “Let’s work together and make sure our immigrant population, our equity groups, our women and the educated are respected.”
Shan put up a strong fight against Cho — the other seven candidates each mustered just three per cent or less. Shan’s base was strong with over 9,000 supporters.
“Everyone who worked on this campaign will get five or six people trained to do what we did today for the next election,” said Jay Yerex, another Shan election day manager.
“I’m not a quitter,” Shan said. “My team is going to get stronger day by day, year by year, and in four years, we will be back.”