Ward 7: Without an incumbent, plenty of candidates are vying for Mississauga Ward 7 council seat

By:  Monica Kucharski

Many consider the composition of Mississauga City Council essentially frozen in time—mainly because election after election, people tend to return incumbents to office.  But the October 22nd Municipal Election for Ward 7 council seat is going to change the City Council landscape just a bit.

In January 2018, after serving as Mississauga city councillor since 1988, Ward 7 Councillor Nando Iannicca announced his retirement.  Iannicca is the city’s longest-serving councillor, and when he was first elected he was only 27 — the youngest-ever councillor.

Ward 7 is the most populous (85,000 residents), and varied Mississauga ward. It covers a part of the city’s growing downtown core, the very diverse Cooksville, and such historic neighbourhoods like Gordon Woods, old Erindale Village, and Cooksville-Munden Park.  It’s an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods, with different set of concerns each.

Upon his retirement, Iannicca mused that with the increasing population in Ward 7, the next council may have to seriously consider dividing up Ward 7 to create a “downtown ward” north of the CN rail line.

The upcoming Hurontario LRT— planned to rise up along the major artery running right through Ward 7—and its ramifications (construction, congestion, condo-mania) is a major concern to the ward’s residents.  So is increased intensification of housing, traffic, and for residents close to Cooksville Creek, ways to deal with potential flooding.  (Iannicca’s push to have the city purchase vulnerable homes in the Cooksville Creek flood plain to replace them with a park became very controversial during his term.)

There are twelve candidates vying for the seat:

  • former Queens’ Park staffer, Dawid Burzynski 
  • VP of Policy and Regulatory Risk Management at a large investment bank, Marco Camaioni
  • nurse and former OPP worker, LeeAnn Cole
  • former MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville and cabinet minister in the previous Liberal government, Dipika Damerla
  • financial professional and president of the Cooksville-Munden Park homeowners association, Andrew Gassmann
  • realtor, entrepreneur, and Ordained Minister, Winston Harding
  • former UN aid worker, Executive Director of SAV Canada and the president of the Syrian Community Centre, Sam Jisri
  • Manager of Public Engagement and Communications for Waterfront Toronto and member of several Mississauga communities boards, Louroz Mercader
  • licensed Ontario security guard with a background in financial services, Leslie N. Moss
  • financial professional with entrepreneurial experience in the mortgage brokerage industry, Peter Michael van Sluytman
  • businessman and community volunteer,  Maqbool Walji
  • health care professional and chair and director of several non-profit organizations, Leslie Zurek-Silvestri

Plenty of ideas and priorities for Ward 7 and Mississauga are put forward by the twelve candidates vying for this council seat:  from lowering property taxes and more responsible use of tax money to affordable housing, better transit and ease of congestion, to safety, youth and seniors programs.

But, after three decades on council, retiring Coun. Iannica summarized the mandate of the new Ward 7 councillor this way:  “In my opinion, growth and density, the revitalization of Cooksville, and the liveable and sustainable city are the challenges and opportunities of the city and Ward 7 going forward.”