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IT specialist, engineer win in TDSB by-election

An IT specialist and a young engineer have won seats on the Toronto District School Board in a by-election held Monday.

As expected, voter turnout was low – about 11 per cent – and the margins of victory were just a couple hundred votes for both seats on Canada's largest school board.

Sam Sotiropoulos, an IT specialist who advocates for traditional family values, won just under 30 per cent of the vote with 1,849 ballots, to represent Ward 20, Scarborough-Agincourt.

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Harout Manougian, an electrical engineer whose interests include sustainable energy, won over 18 per cent of the vote with 974 ballots, to represent Ward 17, Don Valley East.

Neither immediately returned calls late Monday.

The two seats on the 22-member board became vacant in October when trustees for those wards, Michael Coteau and Soo Wong, were elected to the provincial legislature.

At a board meeting weeks later, trustees decided to hold a by-election rather than appoint their replacements.

It was a hotly debated issue, with some arguing that with three years left in the trustees' terms, it would be an affront to democracy to appoint the positions. Others argued that given a projected $71-million shortfall, the Toronto District School Board could not afford to run a by-election that would likely see a very low voter turnout.

The school board's projected shortfall has since climbed to $85-million, and the TDSB estimates that the by-election will cost $423,000, plus HST.

Of 100,839 eligible voters, about 11,573 turned out. The approximate cost per vote was $36.50 plus tax.

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The funds were pulled from several areas, but the bulk was expected to come from permit fee subsidies used to enable non-profit community groups to afford after-hours access to school facilities.

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About the Author
Education reporter

Kate Hammer started her journalism career in New York, chasing crime and breaking news for The New York Times. She came to the Globe and Mail in 2008 to do much of the same and ended up investigating allegations of animal cruelty and mismanagement at the Toronto Humane Society. More

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