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Berkovits eyes seat again

By Joshua Freeman

June 15, 2010

Neighbourhoods: Armour Heights / Wilson Heights

Originally published in our North York print edition(s).

Magda Gondor Berkovits is happy to talk about her platform for the upcoming municipal election, but just don’t ask the ward 10 candidate her age.

“You never ask a lady how old she is,” says Berkovits. “I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve got a lot of life experience.”

That much is not hard to believe. The daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors, Berkovits grew up in a number of Toronto neighbourhoods after moving to the city as a young girl, including Kensington Market and Lawrence Heights.

Having always had an interest in politics, she took on a number of volunteer positions, eventually landing a job running the constituency office of former Trinity (now Trinity-Spadina) MP, Aideen Nicholson. That experience, she says, showed her just how much one is able to contribute in politics.

“I saw how much good you can do from a professional level just by being a lowly constituency office manager,” says Berkovits. “You can open doors for people.”

Some of the doors Berkovits looks to open as a councillor in Ward 10 would lead to better garbage collection and services for seniors, she says.

“My mother is 80 years young. She can’t manage the garbage, so my brother goes there and he’s the garbage man,” Berkovtis says.

“But what if you don’t have a son who is willing, able and has time to do it? You have to make garbage easier for people to deal with.”

She also has transit in her sights, particularly a loop between Downsview and Finch stations that she says would invigorate the neighbourhoods in between.

“But it shouldn’t be on the backs of the taxpayers,” she says. “It should be put on the people who will get the most benefit from it, and that’s the developers all along that route.”

Having already run and lost against long-time councillor Michael Feldman in the 2006 election, she knows there will be competition in the race. Even if Feldman decides not to run again, as is rumoured, school board trustee James Pasternak is entering the fray this year, along with several others.

But Berkovits says she’s got a plan for getting people to see that she’s the one for the job.

“I’ll talk about my experience working in a constituency office, I’ll talk about my work ethic, I’ll talk about my issues, I’ll talk about my absolute willingness to fight for people,” she says. “I’m optimistic that if people get to know me better, they’ll put their trust in me.”

Berkovits also says that if elected, she’ll give up the Vaughan travel agency she’s owned and operated for the last 22 years.

“My work ethic wouldn’t allow me to do both,” she says.

Berkovits says voters can feel certain of one thing if they choose her:

“People will get value for their money.”

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