Anshul Kapoor, the activist responsible for organizing opposition to the Island Airport expansion in the No Jets TO campaign, will register to run for a seat on city council.
Mr. Kapoor, 34, is set to file his registration papers Wednesday morning as a candidate in the downtown Ward 20 – previously held by MP Adam Vaughan.
Mr. Kapoor, who is taking a leave of absence from his job as a digital marketing manager at Rogers Communication, said his experience as chair of the omnipresent No Jets TO campaign – which organized thousands of residents across the city to oppose the use of jets at Billy Bishop Airport – opened his eyes to the importance of local politics.
"Grassroots organizers like me need to have more of a say in city council, and what better way to do that then to run for city council?" he said.
And though Mr. Kapoor, who is stepping down as chair of No Jets TO, first became known to local councillors for his involvement with the aiport issue – expected to resurface at council next year – he said that it's only one of many issues important to the ward.
"The tough conversations about neighbourhood, about development, about public spaces, about green spaces, affordable housing, waterfront revitalization –all of those conversations are near and dear to me," he said.
Mr. Kapoor called a "lack of vision" the biggest problem he sees in the city, arguing that Toronto is currently "way too execution-focused."
"Take transit, for instance," he said. "What we look at is ad hoc execution of transit. We're not looking at a vision for Toronto – we don't say 'transit for Toronto has to be x in 20 years.' That's the conversation I want to bring to the city. City needs a higher-level vision before we talk about execution."
As of Wednesday morning, there were 24 other candidates registered to run in the ward, including former federal NDP candidate Joe Cressy. Mr. Cressy, who lost the Trinity-Spadina federal by-election to Mr. Vaughan, has also worked on previous campaigns for NDP candidates including Olivia Chow and Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton.
But Mr. Kapoor, who says he's not affiliated with any political party, said he's not concerned about running against an organized NDP campaign.
"My focus has been at the municipal level, and my focus has been at the neighbourhood level," he said. "I'm the only one who has the experience of fighting for neighbourhoods and working our way into City Hall."
One thing Mr. Kapoor acknowledges having some concerns about, however, is the timing of the arrival of a new baby – he and his wife are expecting their second child around the same time as the October election.
"I don't make my life easy," he said.