Etobicoke business owner Avtar Minhas, 62, won the Etobicoke North seat vacated by former trustee Michael Ford, who quit the school board after 17 months to run to replace his late uncle Rob Ford on Toronto City Council.
“I decided to run for trustee because I wanted to do some community service and work as a community leader, and I believe in education; it makes everyone civilized,” said Minhas, whose campaign literature often showed him with Michael or Doug Ford, although he said they did not endorse him.
In the Downsview-area ward of York Centre, Montessori teacher Alexandra Lulka, 26, won the seat vacated by the late Howard Kaplan, who died in April. Lulka won by just 116 votes over presumed front-runner Erica Shiner, niece of Councillor David Shiner and granddaughter of former North York and Metro councillor Esther Shiner.
“I want to be an advocate for students, and ensure each child is treated as an individual,” said Lulka, who won endorsements from federal Conservative heavy-hitters John Baird, former minister of foreign affairs, and former finance minister Joe Oliver, on whose last campaign she worked. Lulka said she is also involved in Israeli advocacy.
As a teacher, Lulka said she brings a focus on parent engagement, sharing resources and making sure the board does not treat learning as “one-size-fits-all.” She has not attended a TDSB meeting but said she is “excited to learn.”
The TDSB has held four trustee byelections in 2016 at a cost of roughly $ 1 million, including the recent election of Chris Moise to replace the late Sheila Ward, and the election of Nathan Shan to replace departed former chair Shaun Chen, who was elected to the federal government last fall.
Minhas, who calls himself a “political junkie,” has not yet attended a TDSB meeting but he ran for Ward 1 city councillor in 2014, when he lost to Vincent Crisanti. He told the Star Tuesday he has a home in Mississauga and an apartment in Etobicoke.
Questions had been raised during that 2014 campaign over portions of his campaign literature that were the same as another candidate’s, especially the phrase “A vote for me is a vote for you!” Minhas told The Star Tuesday “I didn’t copy anyone’s literature. That phrase is very popular, especially back in India.”