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Controversial candidate Sandro Lisi speaks out ahead of municipal election

Last Updated Oct 1, 2018 at 7:19 pm EDT

A controversial candidate hoping to represent parents and children on Toronto’s school board is speaking out ahead of the elections.

Toronto residents may remember Alexander “Sandro” Lisi as former mayor Rob Ford’s sidekick — charged with extortion for allegedly trying to retrieve the infamous video of Ford smoking crack with gang members. That charge was later withdrawn.

Now, Lisi has thrown himself back into the spotlight, announcing his run for Ward 1 school board trustee.

“Running for office is something I have wanted to do for quite a while,” he told CityNews in a private Twitter message. “During the time I helped campaign for my friend and mentor Rob Ford, I learned first-hand what it means to be in public service, and how you can make a positive impact every day. Rob had ‘service before self’ written on the back of his business cards, and this is a motto that I want to embrace.”

Given his notorious reputation, we asked what challenges he faces and how he plans on overcoming them.

“There are many perceptions of me that are inaccurate that have been reported in the media,” he wrote. “It will always be a challenge to change certain perceptions, but I intend to focus my time and energy as trustee improving the student experience in Ward 1. Actions speak much louder than words.”

The outgoing trustee in the ward, Avtar Minhas, has been in the position for three years and is not running.

“I would like to see somebody responsible, credible for our children,” said Minhas. “I do not know him, I never met him, I have never seen him personally, but I think it has to be a credible person around our children.”

But Lisi tells us he has had overwhelming positive response from neighbours and residents. He says he was inspired to run because of an increase in violence at schools.

“This concerns me,” he wrote. “Schools should be ‘safe havens’ for all students in every ward. Many schools are in drastic need of significant repairs. The TDSB leadership is failing all students by their inaction, and by bad decision making.”

He added that schools in Rexdale need to be as safe as schools in Rosedale and it is his mission to achieve this.

Lisi also said he plans on donating 50 per cent of his first term salary to worthy community causes, charities and grassroots organizations.