Council to change at least 25%
With five days before the close of nominations for the 2014 municipal elections, Maria McRae was the last of the incumbents to declare their intentions. She too has decided to retire from council bringing the number of non returning councillors up to six: Reiner Bloess (Iness), Diane Holmes (Somerset), Maria McRae (River), Peter Hume (Alta Vista), Doug Thompson (Osgoode) & Steve Desroches (Gloucester-South Nepean).
This is a good sign of a healthy council. Of the 24 seats, including the Mayor, Ottawa will have a minimum of a 25% turnover. But that's potentially just the start. You've got some tight races in incumbent wards like Katherine Hobbs (Kitchissippi) probably facing the biggest challenge. The press hasn't always been kind to her and with one of the fastest changing wards, she has had to deal with a multitude of constituents on many issues ranging from transit to intensification.
Marianne Wilkinson (Kanata North) is in a three-way fight with two seasoned challengers in Matt Muirhead and Jeff Seeton, although they might end up splitting the votes and help Wilkinson get reelected. Mathieu Fleury (Rideau-Vanier) might have some trouble against a slew of challengers but as a favourite of mine, I think he will hold on to his seat for a second term. And, good old Bay Ward should be fun, even though Mark Taylor should win. Just having Alex Cullen in the mix makes it a ward to watch.
Some of the open wards will also feature some potentially star candidates like in Somerset where you have Martin Canning facing off against Catherine McKenney and Thomas McVeigh or in Alta Vista with Clinton Cowan against Jean Cloutier. And, what about Gloucester-South Nepean with Susan Sherring versus Michael Qaqish and a list of other viable alternatives? Who can call that one?
In the coming weeks, we will look at the various races in the wards and for Mayor. What are the driving issues and what are the candidates saying?
One thing is for sure: October 27, 2014 will result in a revitalized city council which will be the result of an exciting campaign season which officially gets underway at 2pm, Friday, September 12, 2014.