Long before Toronto's Star's former reporter, Robin Doolittle, described Toronto mayoral candidate, Ari Goldkind, as someone who "has virtually no chance of winning," I knew who he was.
In my (potential) pursuit of a Law degree, I have spent many hours at Toronto's College Park Courthouse. It is a fascinating place to be at and I have witnessed some of the brightest lawyers at work. One of those lawyers was a 40-year-old named Ari Goldkind. Always dressed in a smart tailored suit and Holt Renfrew like tie, Goldkind was one of those lawyers that actually made a lasting impression on me.
I was surprised when he announced his candidacy for mayor and I too once shared Doolittle's assessment of his candidacy. That all changed when I met up with him for an hour at a downtown food court. I was late by an hour and I was touched that he waited for me patiently.
I hope he is given a chance to make an impression on Torontonians as he made on me. He has realistic and thoughtful ideas on a slew of issues much better than some of the brand name candidates. In short, he is no Kevin Clarke or Sarah Thomson.
Blind in one eye since the age of 10, Goldkind has had a long journey in life. He lived with his grandparents, responsible for himself financially; he worked in minimum wage jobs all through high school and attended the best higher institutions -- Queen's and University of Toronto Law.
As many of his colleagues at the Ivy League like U of T Law joined boutique law firms all over the world, Goldkind became a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto. This brought him in contacts with diverse backgrounds, mostly black faces, I often used to witness at the downtown courthouse.
Why is he running for mayor?
At his launch, Goldkind, the long time political activist, reflected how he is running "because people can handle the truth," and that "they can handle the truth about tolls, transit, taxes, public servant wage hikes, and infrastructure -- the realities of keeping this city great." I asked him to reflect on some of his ideas?
He starts with transit and then goes on and on until I stop him, asking him to repeat what he just said in Sound Bits. He makes an attempt and fails and starts again as I realize what I was asking him was to reduce himself at the same level as Rob Ford. Is speaking in Sound Bits the norm nowadays? Yes, it worked for Rob Ford in 2010 - "Stop the Gravy Train" -- "Respect Taxpayers" but it seems, Goldkind is smart and thoughtful for that. I vividly remember when Naheed Nenshi, was asked to speak in Sound Bits as a mayoral candidate and responding that "he does not think in Sound Bits". Smart people do not talk or think in Sound Bits and Goldkind is such a person.
On taxes, he wants them raised so that we can build better transits, improve and maintain infrastructures and have better safety nets for citizens.
It seems Goldkind is too real and organic to change his views for a vote much like Olivia Chow or even Karen Stintz. I hope he is included in the mayoral debates that are being organized all over the city. I have learned that the more we can distinguish him from the leading candidates, the more seriously he will be taken to get into the debates and it actually negatively impacts him to be compared to any candidates that are seen as fringe or not taken seriously.