Runner-up in 2016 Scarborough trustee race not...
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Feb 15, 2017  |  Vote 0    0

Runner-up in 2016 Scarborough trustee race not glad for Neethan Shan

Jack Wang says byelections cost the TDSB money it hasn't got

Scarborough Mirror

Neethan Shan became a public school trustee in a Scarborough byelection last January.

In September, he then ran unsuccessfully in a byelection for the provincial riding of Scarborough-Rouge River.

A few months after that, Shan ends up winning a seat on Toronto City Council.

The man who came second in the trustee race isn’t happy about that.

“He is elected, and then he runs for MPP. And then later runs for city councillor,” said Jack Wang, who finished with 1,258 votes to Shan’s 4,197.

“He’s always running. He’s running for every election.”

Wang, on the other hand, said he couldn’t argue with the results on Feb. 13, when Shan stepped into Raymond Cho’s former post.

“The voters selected him, right? We don’t have any control.”

But Wang said every byelection costs Toronto’s public board something like $250,000 at a time when it can’t afford to maintain its buildings.

Instead of playing “the election game” again, he suggested, it would be fair for the board to appoint a trustee for the post Shan won and left - it's Ward 21 in Scarborough-Rouge River, which covers municipal wards 41 and 42 - from now until the next election in 2018.

Wang said he’d accept the position if it were offered to him.

Trustees must soon decide, likely at a special board meeting on March 8, whether to appoint or hold a byelection, which would be the fourth in that part of Scarborough in a year and a half.

The new trustee must be appointed or elected 90 days from Feb. 14, which is when Shan assumed the office of councillor. The board’s last Ward 21 byelection cost about $244,000, but the city hasn’t yet estimated costs of a 2017 byelection, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said Wednesday.

Some residents questioned Shan while he was running for trustee if he would use the position as a stepping stone to a seat on city council or entry to provincial politics, since he had run for councillor and MPP before.

At the time, Metroland Media Toronto asked Shan directly if he would ever run for another office while still serving as a trustee.

Shan’s answer seemed carefully formed.

“After being elected, my focus will be on the Toronto District School Board and the people of Scarborough-Rouge River,” he wrote.

“I know first-hand that there is much work to be done to improve the TDSB and the schools in our community. Therefore my focus will be solely on doing the work necessary to make our community a better place to go to school not on future political considerations.”

Others in a field of 19 candidates for Ward 21 trustee last year could also approach the board about an appointment. Kwesi Johnson was third with 408 votes, George Lin was fourth with 298.

Arjun Sahota, who was fifth, confronted Shan during a debate for councillor candidates this month, telling Shan none of the sitting Scarborough councillors respected him. Shan shrugged Sahota’s comment off.

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