Friday, January 28, 2011

Meet Ana Bailao's Staff - Bios and More

New councillor Bailao assembles youthful team

by ERIN HATFIELD   Jan 28, 2011 - 3:43 PM
  Inside Toronto article

The staff working for Ward 18 Councillor Ana Bailao are young, enthusiastic and looking to help their boss give constituents a voice. From left Justin Van Dette, Diane Maria, Deyan Kostovski, Braden Root-McCaig and Michael Vieira.

Through the door of the Ward 18 office at City Hall, one will find a team of young, fresh faced employees all looking to live up to the new councillor, Ana Bailao's campaign promise of customer service and community consultation.

Bailao was just elected to her first term as the councillor for the Davenport area. Her staff, all five of whom are in their early 30s or younger, have been on the job for just a few months, but say they are settling in and working on helping their boss to keep her promise to ensure that Davenport residents have a voice at City Hall.

Braden Root-McCaig,  Executive Assistant  (Former Special Assistant to federal Liberal MP Mario Silva)

A native of Peterborough, 23-year-old Braden Root-McCaig, cut his teeth in politics while at the University of Ottawa where he studied philosophy. "I became interested in politics there because there you are either into the bureaucracy or you are into politics," he said.  Root-McCaig, who lives just outside of Ward 18 (Davenport), volunteered during the last election and was subsequently hired as one of Bailão's two executive assistants.

"My favourite part of it is the policy writing," he said. "There are a lot of issues that came out during the election that we are following up on, so the biggest issue we heard about was community consultation...It's about creating a policy that allows the constituents to feel involved and feel a part of it."

Root-McCaig's least favourite part so far is some seemingly simple things, like naming a street, which require a lot of meetings and consultation. "You have a goal and oftentimes there is no non-circuitous root to get there," he said.
(Other Info, not from Inside Toronto article: His Twitter account is @BrootMcCaig. Another obscure Link tells me "Braden Root-McCaig. Special Assistant, Office of Mario Silva, MP Davenport"... Braden has recently been working with Jutta Mason about a compressor problem at Wallace outdoor rink. Braden is also a member of the Canadian Association of Magicians ... Another link tells us  "Braden Root-McCaig demonstrated Pinnacle, relating a story from his job at Canadian Tire, while he linked a finger ring on and off an elastic band" )...Interestingly, Mario Silva supported Gerard Kennedy at the Liberal Party Leadership 2006)

  Justin Van Dette, Executive Assistant (former EA to Bill Saundercook, Ward13 Parkdale-High Park) Justin is a true-blue Conservative.

Van Dette, 31, is the veteran city employee in the office. He grew up in East York and has worked at city hall for a number of councillors over the past eight years. He had no previous relationship with Bailao before being hired as her executive assistant. "I had expressed an interest in continuing my service here at the City of Toronto and I was fortunate enough to have Ana call me one day and talk to me about my interest and abilities," he said. Van Dette, an avid volunteer, works for his local community association, Toronto East General hospital and the Toronto Police Service 54 Division Community Police Liaison Committee. Van Dette said he really enjoys working with the different groups, residents and business owners that make up Ward 18. "This is what drives me in public service, the amount of good will that people have," Van Dette said. On the flip side, "government and politics as a whole, sometimes there is a perception that there is a lot of negativity happening," he said.
(Other info, not from Inside Toronto article but The Star : "He also serves as a regional vice-president of the Ontario PC Party." Also, March 29,2010 he blogged in The Star about the need to keep bike lanes off of busy city streets... "Given the financial state of the city, I say we can’t afford this now". In another blog, same link, "I would rather see those funds allocated for the city’s bicycle plan directed to the backlog of road and sewer repairs that we have in our city" Another link source about Justin being part of Frank Klees, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora and candidate for the leadership of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party April, 2009: “Justin has served our Party as a Campaign Manager, Riding President and Volunteer Chair, not to mention his many executive positions. He has participated in candidate recruitment, organized training sessions for Party members, has been an active member at the grassroots level and brings a wealth of enthusiasm and experience to our team,” said Klees. (Here is a Youtube video )  In February 2008 Van Dette was re-elected as the Ontario PC Party Regional Vice President responsible for Toronto. He is a former Ontario PC Campus Association Fundraising Director and an avid community activist who has dedicated his time to advocating for public education reforms and raising funds for the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation. Van Dette’s involvement in the PC Party dates back to 1995 when he helped secure the victory for his local candidate Dave Johnson in the riding of Don Valley East... Another Link tells us Justin was part of the Better Ballots working group under Dave Meslin.... Another Link mentions Justin was assistant to Councillor Michael Tziretas who was elected to Toronto City Council in a by-election held in Ward 31, Beaches-East York on December 3, 2001 and served until November 30, 2003.... Justin and Tziretas worked on former Toronto City Councillor Tom Cliffords's federal campaign when he lost to Bob Rae in 1978 in riding of Broadview.... Justin was prior to Ana's election, the executive assistant to Bill Saundercook (who lost to Sarah Doucette ) in Ward 13 Pardlae-High Park Link  Wikepedia says Saundercook lost because ".His reputation for indecisiveness on major development and community issues led to widespread dissatisfaction." ... Another blogger said  "By definition, a bicycle lane must be SAFE for cyclists, but our bike lanes don´t even look safe. Would you feel safe with cars whizzing past you on the Bloor Viaduct? Out-of-touch conservatives like Justin Van Dette consistently miss the point when they suggest that bike lanes should be relegated to Toronto's ravines"... Another Link  tells us Justin was a fan of former police chief Julian Fantino: A lot of the public applauds his approach. "Fantino and the Biker Enforcement Unit have done a very effective job on this," said police policy watcher Justin Van Dette. "What was needed in this fight, was the kind of tactics they brought to this." ... Yet another Link   The headline: “Backing Smitherman was mistake for Ontario Tories”. The Red Tories outed themselves. TEA Party, anyone? signed by several including Isabel Bassett, Justin Van Dette...

Michael Vieira  ,Constituency Assistant

Vieira was born and raised in the ward and ended up Bailao's constituency assistant after volunteering for her campaign. Vieira, 28, just finished his masters degree in political science from the University of Waterloo and was drawn to the position because he said he loves to help people. "In order to be successful with constituency work you need to have some pretty great customer service skills," Vieira said, adding that having worked for many years in retail, he brings that to the office.

Thus far he said he has really enjoyed the rewarding feeling that comes with helping constituents with their issues. "When they call me and tell me that the issue is resolved and that they are happy, it really makes me feel great," Vieira said. "It just makes me want to do more and more."

However, a challenge has been staying organized and efficient, "to make sure everyone gets called back and making sure we are on top of things because there is a lot of stuff going on," he said.

Diane Maria,  Administrative Assistant

Diane Maria, 33, lives in the ward and grew up in Etobicoke. She also helped during Bailão's campaign for councillor.  Maria has a background in administration, so filling that role for the Ward 18 office was a natural step. Even though there can be a lot thrown your way as an administrative assistant, she said she really enjoys helping her co-workers take care of constituents' needs for immediate issues like snow removal or garbage pickup.

"Usually I am the first one to speak to the constituents," she said, adding she wants Bailão's office to be known as one where the staff do good work, answer calls and help the constituents. However, she said it has been challenging thus far in navigating who to go to in the city to get an answer she may need, but she is already learning how best to deal with that.

Deyan Kostovski,  Special Assistant (Liberal party supporter of Michael Ignatieff)

Deyan Kostovski, 34, lives in Ward 19 and said he has known Bailão for years through community activities. "Her story and her involvement in the Portuguese community is very similar to my involvement in the Macedonian community so we had many things in common," he said. He served as her campaign manager and then was hired as the special assistant. Kostovski studied political science at University of Toronto and then did a masters in European and international studies in France and Germany. After his studies he worked overseas in Bosnia for the United Nations doing democratization work.

"A lot of the work I did in Bosnia was support to local governments, because the war was unfortunately so local, it was in towns and villages, so rebuilding the infrastructure was key and that was one of the projects I worked on," Kostovski said. The skills he learned in that work, such as dealing with diverse people, have been helpful in his role as special assistant, he said.

(Other info, not from Inside Toronto articleLink tells us he is Owner at twentyfourten communications and consulting, and was previously Deputy Executive Director at Liberal Party of Canada - Ontario 2003-2006 and a supporter of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.... Another Link says he is a member of the "Hooligans of Toronto Football Club" ...Another Link is Macedonia 2025 "Macedonia 2025 is headquartered in Toronto, Canada in the heart of the city’s financial district. From this location our office conducts all of the analytical work and coordinates our outreach and field activities. The office is headed by Deyan Kostovski. Prior to joining Macedonia 2025, Deyan worked as a key advisor to several cabinet ministers in the Government of Canada and worked for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Bosnia Herzegovina."...Another Link "Deyan Kostovski, Macedonian Human Rights Movement of Canada"... Deyan as Bailao's campaign manager had to deal with the early election sign fiasco reported in The Star and caught by fellow candidate Kirk Russell.... Possibly is a partner with Mediacraft and has attended leader's series gala with Dalton McGuinty..At .Liberal Party Leadership Election 2006 Deyan was ex-officio delegate supporting Michael Ignatieff.
Amazing what patience and a lot of Google internet searches can tell us these days, isn't it?

And what an interesting mix of political partisan alligiances!

* A Mario Silva/Gerard Kennedy flavoured Liberal
* A Fantino flavoured Tory (who does seem anti-bike, despite his protestations)
* A Dalton McGuinty/Michael Ignatieff flavoured Liberal
* Plus Diane and Michael, whose exact political allegiances I am uncertain of (probably at least Liberal)

Interesting choice with Justin, who seems to have strong connections with the Rob Ford-Mike Harris-Tim Hudak brand of right wingers....Probably will help him open doors that others cannot.