Incumbent Glenn De Baeremaeker won a landslide victory in Ward 38, beating his closest challenger by more than 6,000 votes.
“We kicked ass,” shouted De Baeremaeker over a roaring crowd of supporters at Bombay Restaurant near Ellesmere and Markham Roads. “We are a small army but we are a strong army.
“We saw all of the nasty stuff that happened in this campaign and I am proud that through the whole campaign, our slogan is ‘Love and good karma.’ We have crushed [our opponents] with love.”
The “nasty stuff” De Baeremaeker was referring to were election flyers he said were filled with false accusations against him. Supporters said they suspect at least one of his opponents was responsible for the smear campaign.
“When somebody sends out flyers with blatant lies, with horrific things like you’re responsible for the deaths of young boys who fell through ice, that you destroyed rivers before you were ever even elected — those type of lies were rejected because our family knows that we tell the truth,” De Baeremaeker said.
There were four other candidates vying for the seat: Glenn Middleton, Kirk Jensen, Tushar Shah and Sandip Vora. De Baeremaeker won his third term with 63 per cent of the vote, while Middleton, the closest challenger, earned 25 per cent.
De Baeremaeker ran on a platform of improving transit, speeding up road repairs, preserving services while keeping taxes low, protecting green space, and improving safety.
His supporters said they’re not surprised the councillor won a third term, citing numerous projects he initiated over his past seven years in council, including a dog park at Lawrence and Brimley and three new splash pads, as well as organizing movie nights.
Volunteer campaign staffer Melroy Cookhorn said the councillor’s visibility was one key factor to his victory.
“He’s a people person, he cares about people in this ward,” Cookhorn said “He’s always doing things, little things like waving at cars at an intersection.”
Cookhorn said even people who don’t know De Baeremaeker by name recognize his face. “Everyone that I ask, ‘Do you guys know Glenn?’ And they’re like, ‘No.’ I tell them, ‘It’s the guy who always has a green sign and waves.’ ‘Oh, yeah, that guy.’”
De Baeremaeker, who is known for his environmental activism, bikes to city hall from his Scarborough home almost every day throughout the year.
He was elected for a second term as councillor in 2006, winning 8,585 votes. The second place finisher four years ago, Shah, trailed at 1,330.
De Baeremaeker said his first priority is taking care of his constituents’ needs.
“My obligation is to the 10,000 people who voted for me, to make sure our garbage is picked up, that the roads are paved, that the snow plow comes, that if there is a pothole, it gets fixed. Scarborough Centre is an amazing place to live, and I want to make sure it stays that way,” he said.
Road conditions and transportation are two major concerns among residents in his ward, De Baeremaeker said.
“The roads are in bad shape,” he said. “The roads are packed and crowded. And the only way you can solve those problems is to fix more roads, and that costs more money. And to get cars off the road, you have to invest in mass transit.”
But this means an increase in taxes, something he acknowledged residents don’t want.
“It’s a falsehood to say you can solve your problems by tightening your belt,” said De Baeremaeker, who’s been chair of the infrastructure and public works committee for the past four years.
“A TTC bus can’t drive itself. It costs more money to put more buses on the road,” he said. “It costs more money to fix more potholes. So that’s the problem. I could fix every road in the city of Toronto in 10 years. But we don’t have the money.”