Scarborough Southwest Councillor Michelle Berardinetti is off Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee leaving just one woman on the powerful committee of Ford allies going into the second half of the term.
Don Valley West Councillor Jaye Robinson has elected to stay on the committee — and will be seeking re-appointment at the mid-term, saying that she had seen some movement in what she’d viewed as intransigence in the mayor’s office recently.
But Berrardinetti, who several months ago was, like Robinson, considering quitting the committee, has decided to leave.
“I have served for two years on the executive, it was a great opportunity, but I think that some of the more contentious issues didn’t have to be so contentious,” said Berardinett9i.
“I think that better management of the issues is what’s needed... I feel like I’ve done a lot of work for a lot of different issues. I’d like to spend the next few years focussing on residents and having a different role to play as Scarborough Community Council Chair.”
Berardinetti made the decision public after she was elected chair of the Scarborough Community Council last week.
She said that while she found her time on the committee edifying, she found herself bridling under the pressure exerted to vote the mayor’s way on every issue.
“I feel that there is quite a bit of pressure that I just don’t understand how it was necessary — on votes you’re already going to lose or aren’t in my view well thought out,” she said.
Both Berardinetti and Robinson were also conscious of their role as a voice for women on the committee.
Berardinetti said that a number of constituents urged her to remain in order to continue to supply that voice.
But she began to question whether in fact that was what she was doing.
“Optically yes I represent the gender, but I’m not sure how much influence I actually have,” she said. “If you’re an executive member and your decision is just overturned at council I’m not sure how much power I have.”
Robinson, meanwhile, has signalled that she’s staying and wants to remain on the executive committee for the remainder of the term.
“This has been a difficult decision for me — I’ve really thought long and hard about it,” Robinson said. “A few months ago I wasn’t very happy with the way executive was going because the mayor was stubborn on issues that fed into the detriment of the city. There’s been a small shift and you’ve seen in the last couple of months some compromise and a bit more consensus building.”