Nominations for Ottawa City Council are closed!
At 2:00pm last Friday, nominations for the 2014 municipal elections closed and like a casting call for a blockbuster movie, a ton of Ottawa residents are vying for the 24 coveted roles around the table at Ottawa City Hall. I believe the number of candidates running in 2014 (132) surpasses that of the 2010 election (130). That's good news. And the races in many wards will be great to watch. How do they break down?
There are seven challengers to Mayor Jim Watson for his position as chair of City Council. Mr. Watson will be a tough incumbent to unseat. He is a populist mayor who has few public missteps for challengers to pin on him. Expensive councillor portraits, higher absolute debt in terms of dollars and environment friendly programs gone awry are a few of the darts mayoral candidates can throw at Mayor Watson but his popularity and political acumen will make it difficult to beat him.
There are 17 incumbents running again and all have challengers. The races, however, where challengers have a chance to upset a sitting councillor are Ward 4 Kanata North (Marianne Wilkinson), Ward 15 Kitchissippi (Katherine Hobbs) and maybe Ward 12 Rideau-Vanier (Mathieu Fleury).
For the real fireworks though, you have to look to the six open wards: Ward 2 Innes, Ward 14 Somerset, Ward 16 River, Ward 18 Alta Vista, Ward 20 Osgoode and Ward 22 Gloucester-South Nepean.
For me, my ward, River Ward, is particularly interesting because Riley Brockington, the former school board trustee and budget chair is running as is Barbara Carroll, the Executive Director at Debra Dynes Family House. Ms. Carroll is a strong candidate who knows City Hall and City Hall knows her. She also represents a strong woman candidate of which this election has pitifully too few. And let's not forget Mike Patton, the former PC candidate and communications person for former mayor, Larry O'Brien. I don’t know if Mr. Patton is a River ward resident but he has kept up with all news political in the Ottawa region.
Somerset Ward, the heart of the city also has some worthy candidates that span the political spectrum. There is Martin Canning, Catherine McKenney, Jeff Morrison and Thomas (Thom) McVeigh. All have strong ties to the community and are well versed on the issues that face the city. Hearing how each will handle the LRT-Phase 2, bike lanes, the environment and intensification will differentiate their candidacy for the voters in this downtown ward.
Finally, any ward in which Sue Sherring is running is a race worth following. This long time journalist covering city politics is now one of the leading candidates in Gloucester-South Nepean ward. She is running against the retiring councillor's staffer, Michael Qaqish.
So, with under six weeks of this 2014 election cycle to go and nominations closed, the auditions for the next council are underway. Let's pull up a chair and see who charms us, irks us, surprises us and wins our votes.