Where are all the women?
Of the 24 City Hall elected officials, only six are women. They are Jan Harder, Marianne Wilkinson, Diane Deans, Dianne Holmes, Katherine Hobbs and Maria McRae. Of these, two are in tough reelection fights (Hobbs & Wilkinson) and two are retiring (Holmes & McRae). That means as few as two women will be returning to council. If men win all the remaining spots on council, this would be a terrible shame and a gross underrepresentation at City Hall. The onus is on the electorate to seriously look at their female candidates and elect the best of the bunch.
In Innis Ward (Ward 2), you have Laura Dudas, a city of Ottawa communications staffer who was also a journalist at the Ottawa Sun. She understands how city hall works and has a dynamic personality. Reports say she is ready to get down to work from Day 1.
In Somerset Ward (Ward 14), the name Catherine McKenney keeps bubbling to the top of exciting candidates in this ward. She too is a city staffer who wants to move to the Andy Hayden Hall. She is has a long political legacy having worked with numerous elected and successful politicians. She would be a star newbie for sure if elected next month.
In Kitchissippi (Ward 15), if Katherine Hobbs goes down, Michelle Reimer would be the go to girl. This strategic management consultant and facilitator is looking to make a difference in this fast growing ward located in the heart of Ottawa. Getting results when balancing growth and quality of life can be very tricky as the current councillor has found out.
In River Ward (Ward 16), Barbara Carroll has been an angel to many in the ward. The long serving executive director of Debra Dynes has a progressive agenda but the skills of a fiscal conservative. Her commitment in bringing back stability to the community centres and tackling traffic and transit issues make her the perfect replacement for the retiring councillor.
In Osgoode (Ward 20), hockey mom, Jean Johnston-McKitterick is running to be the representative for this rural township. This former postal worker has extensive community volunteerism behind her and may be a good addition to downtown Ottawa by adding a touch of country common sense.
Finally, in Gloucester-South Nepean (Ward 22), Susan Sherring is one of Ottawa's leading political columnists. She is now running in this open ward to prove once and for all, that someone can become an elected official and not turn their brain off once they take the oath of office. Ms. Sherring's in-depth understanding and historic knowledge of city affairs make her the only real choice to replace the retiring councillor. The fact that she is a woman is a bonus because city hall desperately needs more x chromosomes around the table.
So there you have it. Ottawa is poised to lose some good women around City Hall but the responsibility is on the Ottawa voter to take up the challenge and turn this potential negative into a positive. If all these capable women win, the number of women on council would rise to nine. This would be a really fantastic election if this comes to pass.