Mayoral Speculation

I have a confession to make. I didn’t think there was any chance that Catherine McKenna would beat Paul Dewar. I knew it was getting close, but I just couldn’t see Dewar losing. About a month or so before the election, I made a decision: shortly after the federal election, I was going to approach McKenna to see if she would be angling for a mayoral run. I thought she’d be a great challenge to Jim Watson.

Well, things didn’t quite happen that way.

Jim Watson has seemed like the perfect mayoral candidate the past few years. He understands the municipal game, as a former councillor and mayor, and he then moved on to provincial politics, so he appears like the heavyweight coming down middleweight class to dominate the undersized and under-prepared competitors.

But the bloom is off the rose. He’s led our city into deficit. Our roads are crumbling, and he hasn’t properly budgeted for snow removal…rather important in Ottawa.

Let’s not forget that Watson is no dragon slayer. He came in as mayor, originally, in the final days of the old (pre-amalgamation) days of the city. With amalgamation and the elimination of regional council, Watson didn’t persist. Regional Chair Bob Chiarelli (an even more career-y career politician than Watson) wanted the job, and Watson kind of just left.

Those who didn’t want to vote for Chiarelli were left to vote for Claudette Cain.

Eventually, Larry O’Brien stumbled into the role of mayor, and totally cocked it up. There was no chance he’d have a second term. So, with a mayoral vacuum, and Bob Chiarelli looking for a provincial job, Watson came back City Hall, beating a rather weak field.

In 2014, he beat the weakest of fields to hold onto his job.

I don’t know if he’ll run again, but if he does, he deserves a real challenge. And there are people in the city who are ready to takeover. I’m going to list a few here. They may not fancy a run in 2018, or they may wait until Watson isn’t running, but these are the people I could see running in the future.

This list is no real order. It’s just off the top of my head.

Tobi Nussbaum

He clearly has the chops to run for mayor. A former diplomat, he knows how to engage the public and work the people behind the scenes. He comes off as both likeable and knowledgeable. He’d not only make a strong candidate, he’d probably make a very good mayor.

Catherine McKenney

The councillor, not the Cabinet Minister. She knows City Hall. She knows the political game (having walked away with Somerset Ward). And, like Nussbaum, she’s knowledgeable and likeable. But, she doesn’t come off quite as personable as Nussbaum (in public)…but she does seem to get stuff done. Nussbaum has a higher profile resume, but McKenney might have the better resume for municipal leadership.

(By the way, it seems like Nussbaum might be the more likely candidate because of sexism. He’s loaded in privilege, McKenney isn’t. That could be the difference between the two.)

Jan Harder

You can’t miss Harder at City Hall. She’s been there for…oh man, I’m not even sure. I think she first ran back when I lived in Barrhaven, back during university or high school. She makes her presence felt on any issue she decides. She maintains a lot of support in her ward, and would probably carry a lot of the ‘burbs, if she ran.

She’s also an angry, hateful person, who has been known to break traffic laws. She might not be diplomatic enough to pull off the being mayor. She might stir up enough suburban entitlement to win, but she’d probably turn into an Ottawa version (ie, watered down and less criminal version) of Rob Ford.

(I would have said Mel Lastman, but that title was taken by Larry O’Brien.)

Stephen Blais

I know Blais has had health issues, and I could see that playing into any decision he’d make, but aside from that, he seems like a solid contender. He’s bright and he’s detail-oriented. And despite his tone-deaf response to widening the 174, he’s responsive to his community (his 174 response probably isn’t really tone-deaf…he just knows which constituents he needs to listen to).

That being said, I’m not sure he has a big enough profile, city-wide, to make a run in 2018.

Tim Tierney

I’ll admit it; I can’t quite figure Tierney out. I’ve never met Tierney, but I’ve had a number of interactions with him through social media. I most certainly do not always agree with him, but he seems like a decent guy…with bouts of free-thinking, which doesn’t happen enough on this council.

He doesn’t have a big enough profile, nor a clearly defined vision for a run…yet. I don’t know what his long-game is, but I could easily see him try to make the jump from councillor to mayor.

Mark Taylor

I’m going to say it right now. Mark Taylor does not have the chops to be mayor. But I totally think he would run for mayor, if he doesn’t jump to an MP or MPP run, first. I think he has definite ambition, and fancies himself a real political contender. He needs to do more work, first. We don’t need another milquetoast mayor from Bay Ward.

Alex Cullen

Okay, this is a bit of a joke, but he’s run for everything else, it seems, so why not mayor? Also, a Cullen-Taylor mayoral battle would a helluva a good time to watch…until we had to live with one of the as mayor.

Paul Dewar

He says he’s done with politics, and maybe that’s true. But he has the pedigree, the political experience and the likeability to be a legitimate challenger. We’d just need to know what his vision would be.

Well…that’s about it for now. There are always other people to consider. Alex Munter is still out there; he might want to make a run. Or we might have another pillar of industry who’ll run, a Hunt or a McGarry, but I’d kind of hope that we’d be really wary of that sort of thing again.

There is one name that I have conspicuously left off this list:

Scott Moffatt

I don’t think Moffatt is looking to be mayor. I think he’s looking to be MP or MPP. It’s jsut a hunch. Nonetheless, there is no doubt in my mind that he has greater aspirations that Rideau-Goulbourn councillor.

He’s young. Younger than me. He has a young family, and somehow he’s been able to run successfully twice. He’s driven and he serves the community. He’s engaging. He’s bright. And he works. However, is Ottawa going to elect a rural mayor? Is a rural politician going to think that mayor is the ultimate goal? I don’t really think so. This is a bit of a hunch, but I expect Moffatt to leave municipal politics in the next ten years, or so.

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