By: Monica Kucharski
Ron Starr first appeared on Mississauga’s municipal politics scene in 1978 as councilor for Ward 7 and the Region of Peel. After losing his council seat to Dave Cook two years later, he left the public domain to run his family’s land development business, but returned in 2010, winning the council seat for Ward 6.
Along the way, Starr has sat on—or has led as CEO/President —a significant number of important directors’ boards and associations—i.e., Enersource Hydro, the Living Arts Centre, Credit Valley Hospital, and the Municipal Electrical Association, to mention just a few. He also has been an active member of many professional associations.
Starr’s involvement with so many organizations bespeak of his leadership ability and business acumen. Still, this busy schedule just may account for the lack of connectivity with grassroots constituents Starr has been accused of. Reportedly, very few Ward 6 residents know anything about him. Or so one of his biggest challengers for Ward 6 council seat, Joe Harneck, claims in an FB post.
Yet Harneck’s social media censure may no longer apply — Coun. Starr has apparently been doing a robust door-to-door canvassing, getting close and personal with his constituents, since launching a re-election campaign for his third term on September 22nd.
At Starr’s re-election launching event, approximately 100 supporters showed up, including Mayor Bonnie Crombie, MPP Nina Tangri, MPP Sheref Sabawy, MPP Natalia Kusendova, and Councillor Sue McFadden.
At the campaign launching event, Coun. Starr identified several issues he wanted to work on for the residents of Mississauga: reducing gridlock, improving public transportation, infrastructure, public safety and crime, and the affordability of housing.
Starr’s priorities are similar to the platform issues of his challengers – with a few variations here and there. The other candidates for Ward 6 council seat include Moezzam Alvi, Al De Ascentiis, Elie Diab, Gary Gu, Muhammad Haroon, Joe Horneck, Anil Sinha, Ash Srivastava, Rob Torry and Sambasiva Vatti.
The theme for Starr’s opposition seems to go along the lines, “it’s time for a change.” And maybe it is. His challengers, however, have little political experience. They are mostly professionals, predominantly in the IT and real estate fields, and only a few have been active in the community—most notably Gary Gu, who has spent many years with the Mississauga Mandarin Association.
Banker Joe Horneck, probably has the most political experience, having run in the 2015 Ward 4 by-election (he came in 3rd), advocating on transit issues and participating in h the Western GTA Summing. Reportedly, he has been receiving support from federal MPs Omar Alghabra and Iqra Khalid.
Horneck and Elie Diab have been critical of Starr on social media, with Diab questioning Starr for spending $500 of taxpayers’ money to sponsor a golf tournament, and Horneck suggesting on Facebook that Starr is out of touch with his constituents.
Is Starr’s 40 years of experience in private and public service a positive or a negative for voters in Ward 6? Hard to tell at this point, but the fact that so many candidates have registered to run to replace him does suggest that the council seat for Ward 6 may not be assured of status quo after the October 22 election.