Ottawa Election Primer Pt. 3 2018 - here's four more wards for you...
This is a third in a series about the Ottawa Municipal elections taking place October 22, 2018. I have covered 10 of the seats around council and in this post I will consider four more. In the last post I mentioned I would write about Kanata North, Bay, Knoxdale-Merivale and Rideau-Vanier wards. I am going to make a small change and save Bay Ward for next week and talk about Capital ward, as something recently happened that could have an impact on both the sitting Councillor and the Mayor.
Kanata North supposedly was to be vacant in 2014, Marianne Wilkinson had alluded to the fact that she was done, she then changed her mind and what could have been an interesting race turned into a re-election romp. This election Wilkinson is out, at least she is not running.
I have a belief that elected officials that are not seeking re-election should stay quiet and not get involved in the race for their replacement. In Kanata North Wilkinson has endorsed Jenna Sudds – however that does not guarantee a victory for Wilkinson’s favourite. Kanata North with the incumbent Wilkinson out has a good list of candidates to replace her. There are five names on the ballot in Kanata North. Matt Muirhead is back for his third attempt at the seat. The profile names on the ballot however are David Gourley and Jenna Sudds; Gourley is no stranger to the goings on at City Hall having worked in Mayor Watson’s office and Sudds is the first Executive Director of the Kanata North BIA, stepping down to run for council.
From the outside looking in (from the downtown core) it looks to be a Gourley and Sudds race and likely a Watson machine vs. a Wilkinson machine type of campaign. May the best political machine win!
Unless residents of Knoxdale-Merivale are extremely unhappy with Ottawa roads, potholes, the upcoming delays in LRT and other transportation issues the quiet Keith Egli may just as quietly keep his seat.
Unlike 2014, when Egli faced one challenger, this election sees four others that want to represent the ward. Back after sitting out 2014 is James Dean who, according to his website compares the current tax policy of the current council to that of a Ford Pinto. He says that council has cut services to pay more than $200 Million for the city debt, that the cuts will cause trouble for the city as citizens lose the services and programs they rely on. The current 2% tax policy may blow up and hurt the city if the debate on services vs. tax hikes continues to be won by a cap on taxes that according to Dean unfairly increases burden of the tax debt on taxpayers. Unlike James Dean, the two other candidates have not fully laid out their plans for the city though transparency, tax spending and their community involvement are mentioned.
Though Egli has serviced the ward competently for two terms and incumbents are tough to defeat, of the three challengers James Dean has the best opportunity to shake things up in Knoxdale-Merivale.
Was Mathieu Fleury in a sophomore slump in the first half of his second term as the Rideau Vanier councillor? If he had been he must be extremely happy that the arrangement to move the Salvation Army to Montreal Road from the By-Ward market can along. In it he found a voice for an issue that has united Vanier communities and has shown Fleury is someone who will fight Mayor Watson. Since the inception of the SOS Vanier campaign, Fleury has lent his name to the fight and has spoken publicly about the Mayor giving public support for the move before the application from the Salvation Army was off the printer and emailed to the city planning committee.
While being able to show he will fight for Vanier, Vanier also is home to many qualified community activists that choose to fun for council come election time. This time around Fleury has fewer challengers, and of the three other candidates only Thierry Harris seems capable of mounting a challenge that could topple Fleury come October 22nd. Will Fleury and SOS Vanier be the one thing that saves him and keeps him fighting Watson for another 4 years?
Long ago, Capital ward was where Jim Watson was first elected to the old un-amalgamated Ottawa City Council. So it makes sense that the ward still holds a special place in his heart. This was demonstrated a few weeks ago when Capital ward candidate Shawn Menard acted, along with other community members to save century trees from being cut down. The city was expected to issue the cut permit by mid-august. With no action from City Hall being taken Menard took up the fight and started a petition to prevent the cut. In his actions, Menard seems to have awoken Watson and David Chernushenko, the current councillor. In a series of tweets on August 8th, the Mayor and Councillor celebrated the saving of the trees while ignoring the work that Menard did on bringing the issue forward.
With three other candidates vying for the seat, they will have to so something short of canvassing while standing on their heads to take the attention away from a Chernushenko vs. Menard race. Chernushenko doesn’t make the loudest noise at council and the voters in the ward want the same type of leadership that Watson gave them as a councillor in the 80’s Menard could be joining the current “Urban Caucus” of Leiper, McKenney, Fleury and Tobi Nussbaum, which would certainly turn the volume up on urban issues.
With this post you now have my thoughts on 14 of 24 races. My next Ottawa Election Primer will focus on Bay, Somerset, Alta Vista, Cumberland and Osgoode Wards.