On Tuesday the city will have a new mayor, along with at least a quarter of the city’s aldermen replaced by fresh faces. Contender for one of those positions is U of T graduate student Adam Giambrone.
Before the race, Giambrone worked for the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada. He is co-director of an archaeological dig in Sudan funded by the Royal Ontario Museum, and is also the national president of the NDP. It seems incongruous that a student of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, someone who has worked around the world wants to dig into a local constituency and become a City Councillor. But Giambrone is obviously dedicated to the plan.
He ran in Ward 18 in the previous election. When defeated, he began the Davenport Municipal Association to hear people’s complaints. “I grew up in the neighbourhood, and most importantly, I like dealing with people,” noted Giambrone.
The jobs of city councillor and archaeologist, he said, share several skills. “Archaeologists have to be out talking to people,” said Giambrone, who is fluent in three languages. “Diplomatic skills, logistic skills, dealing with officials, being a leader.” Challenges in the Sudan included leading a team of 100 people, getting supplies into an area with no roads and doing so in a region undergoing a civil war.
His biggest competitor in the predominantly Portuguese ward is Ana Bailao, assistant to outgoing Ward 18 Alderman Mario Silva. Giambrone, however, makes a strong case that he is in better touch with the constituents. “What do the Portuguese of the constituency want? They want their problems fixed when they have a parking problem, or their street’s not being cleaned. It’s so basic, in some ways. In other ways it’s pretty profound, to not have to spend all day at City Hall.”
Giambrone isn’t worried about the fact that his competition has the support of the outgoing alderman, however. “Silva did not have an office in the constituency. The word on the street is they never returned any calls. She was his constituency assistant. If you want the positive associations with the previous councillor, you have to take the negative associations as well.”
Giambrone also weighed in on the candidates for mayor. “David Miller represents a very new face that isn’t painted by corruption. Remember John Tory ran Mel Lastman’s election campaigns. Tory is of the Mel Lastman team. With John Tory it would be business as usual. That would be a shame, because I think that we’ve decided that we don’t like the politics of Mel Lastman.”
“Miller is articulate, he has a lot of integrity, he has experience, he knows how to connect with people. Tory makes promises without knowing the reality of government. The mayor is not an entry-level position. John has no government experience; he’s never been in public office.”
Giambrone feels municipal experience is the key to the position. “The Toronto government is the sixth-largest government in Canada. There’s the Federal, three provinces and then Toronto, with an $8 billion budget. Running a corporation is hardly at all like running a government. You don’t have dictatorial powers in government; you don’t make a profit in government.” Giambrone was obviously not a fan of the outgoing mayor, Mel Lastman. “The city over the last couple of years has been rudderless, the mayor’s office has not provided the direction that’s needed.”
“I think it’s important for councillors to be leaders and community organizers.”