Coming Home to Willowdale

by David Nickle, Senior Advisor on Policy and Communications

I first met John Filion more than three decades ago, when he represented Willowdale not as councillor, but as a Trustee on the North York Board of Education. He had just started his appointment chair of the board, and I had just started as an education reporter for the North York Mirror. Just a couple of weeks ago, I joined Ward 18 (Willowdale) Councillor John Filion's office as a senior advisor on policy and communications. It's not a career move I would have predicted when I sat down to interview the new school board chair all those years ago. But there was a long road from there to here. When I moved on to start covering Mel Lastman's North York Council in the early 1990s, it was around the same time that John made the leap from school board to councillor for Ward 11. When amalgamation hit and John moved on to representing Willowdale on Mel Lastman's amalgamated Toronto Council, I moved too - to cover that giant, brand-new council for Metroland's Mirror and Guardian community papers. I didn't always cover John's comings and goings as closely – there were a lot of city councillors who came and went in those days - but it's fair to say a year did not go by that didn't see at least a few quotes from the long-serving representative from Willowdale show up in my stories. John is almost certainly going to be better represented in my writing going forward – particularly in those stories that I write in this newsletter. But I'm also looking forward to writing about the people who are represented in Willowdale – the community leaders, the volunteers, the businesses and everybody else that makes this community shine as it does. Because the fact is that while I didn't imagine I'd be capping a long career in political journalism coming back to Willowdale, I'm really delighted to be here – working with John on this newsletter, and continuing to tell Willowdale's story. To put it another way – it's good to be home.

On beautiful Friday evenings in July, there's nowhere I'd rather be than with you in Mel Lastman Square. For more than 10 years, it's been my joy to be there on those nights, satisfying my creative ur