Mayor Jim Watson is an avid social media user. You’ll find him promoting events, recording his public appearance and, sometimes, saying dumb stuff in the face of tragedy (when a bicyclist was killed, he tweeted about record spending on bike infrastructure; when Abdirahman Abdiab was killed by cops, he tweeted about baseball).
You can also see him picking fights and obsessing over petty grievances. He’ll attack city activists and advocates if they don’t toe the line, and he’s had numerous bickering matches with Alex Cullen. It’s all pretty unseemly.
Yesterday, he decided he needed a new foil, and decided it would be Stittsville resident and city council candidate Glen Gower.
Glower established and used to run Stittsville Central–a website covering issues pertinent to Stittsville. It really is a fantastic source for hyper-local coverage, and Glen should be proud of what he built.
But notice I said “used to”. Glen stepped down from Stittsville Central when he signed up to run for council, as he should have. He’s no longer involved in it. Devyn Barrie is now the editor, and yesterday, Devyn ran story about Watson’s cynical ploy to spend money on an environmental assessment to get LRT to Barrhaven.
It’s a pretty transparent election-year promise…but a lot of people have wondered what it means for light rail out to Kanata and Stittsville. Will we do both? Will we shift the focus to Barrhaven? Is this just an empty gesture? It’s a valid question and a valid issue for Sittsville Central to cover.
The mayor was pretty upset:
So this story had absolutely nothing to do with Gower and yet Watson decided to smear Gower, nonetheless. You might wonder why he would do this. Gower is an active and passionate advocate for his community and the city, as a whole. He is committed and works hard, and probably has a decent shot at beating the incumbent, Shad Qadri…
…oh that might explain it. Gower speaks his mind, looks to improve the community and doesn’t appear to be someone whole fall in line if elected to council. Watson has very little time for these people.
Watson has often said that if people want to make a difference, they should run for office. But it seems that’s just a canard and he doesn’t really mean it.
Stittsville Central fired back at Watson and his false claim:
Oh yeah, and that wasn’t the only bit of incorrect info Watson blasted out:
Naturally, Watson didn’t acknowledge his false claims; in fact, he doubled-down on the whole matter. It was a rather tactless episode from a mayor who always tries to present a very specific–if inaccurate–face to the media.
Gower seems to have taken the high road in all of this and not responded. It’s quite possible he’s just a bigger, more considerate person than the mayor.