Kristian Santos, 37, had been praying for two years, searching for something meaningful to do when he said the answer came to him loud and clear: to serve his community first. That's when he decided to run as councillor for Toronto Ward 1 Etobicoke North.

Santos was three years old when he arrived in Canada in 1989. He speaks Tagalog fluently, and credits his mother, Vilma Bidinost, with the inspiration to run for office, and instilling in him the knowledge that one person can, and make, a difference in people's lives.

"When I was in high school, (my school) Monsignor Percy Johnson Catholic School was an unfortunate high school," Santos recalled. "We had no shop class, no football field, no pool. My mom was the chairman of the parent council and she rallied to get the school rebuilt. Now it's completely different."

"For me, that whole thing my mom did, it stuck with me," he said.

"I think people pay more attention to gang violence in the news than a student winning a science project." Kristian Santos

Santos' campaign is based on re-imaging Etobicoke North. "Rexdale is painted as a crime-tolerant district. I want to change that. I want to put more focus on the youth. We've got a lot of intelligent people here. (But) I think people pay more attention to gang violence in the news than a student winning a science project."

Kristian Santos (left) is pictured with his arm around his younger brother in this undated photo. Submitted photo

With a background mostly in business--as a salesman for enterprise software, a mortgage agent, a call centre owner--Santos has no background in politics.

Santos believes that "a lot of the issues are getting ignored by the City because they see a crime-tolerant city. I never thought I would run, (but) we need a voice down here."

Santos with his 18-year-old daughter, currently a journalism student at Carleton University. Submitted photo

His second focus is on new immigrants. "There's a lot of immigrants here (in Etobicoke). We need a Filipino Centre. Filipinos have a good influence on any community, especially in the church. Our voices are really heard," Santos explained.

He added that it was actually the Filipino community who supported him in running for council.

Santos has a message to the 8,000 Filipinos currently living in Etobicoke: "I am proud to be Filipino. We are a tight knit community, connecting has never been a problem. Being organized and making change--that's what I want to see."

"There's a lot of things you can do in your own community. Your community needs you," Santos concluded. The municipal election is on October 24, 2022.

Check out Kristian Santos' video here: