Deans, McKenney target city division in announcing Ottawa mayoral runs

Councillors Diane Deans (left) and Catherine McKenney both announced plans to run for mayor of Ottawa in 2022 at City Hall on Friday. Craig Lord / Global News

Two current Ottawa city councillors say they will look to heal divisions on council as they seek to replace outgoing Mayor Jim Watson.

Both Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney and Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans announced their plans to run for mayor of Ottawa in 2022 on Friday as incumbent Jim Watson said he would bow out of the race, ending a three-term run as the city’s longest-serving mayor.

Former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli has also previously announced his intentions to run.

But the current city councillors pointed to divisions during this term of council as areas where they see room for improvement after 2022.

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Speaking to reporters outside City Hall on Friday afternoon, Deans positioned herself as a “unifying force” with the experience to lead the city after nearly three decades in municipal politics.

“I think this city has been seriously divided, especially this term, where the rural and suburban communities have been pitted against the core of the city,” she said.

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“We are one city, we are stronger together.”

Deans, the current chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board, said she has a vision to get transit in Ottawa back on track and to address the climate and housing emergencies. She said she will provide a more detailed platform in the new year.

McKenney also addressed reporters in Marion Dewar Plaza on Friday and said residents have shown they’re looking for a “different vision” for Ottawa in the post-Watson era that is “greener” and focuses on affordable and functioning transit.

“Everybody wants the same thing, they want a healthy, green neighbourhood,” McKenney said.

The downtown councillor also pointed to geographic divisions and a lack of representation across key city committees as hindering progress in the current term of council.

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They said that regardless who wins the mayor’s seat next year, the successful candidate should structure chair positions and committees differently to ensure all opinions and areas of the city get “air time.”

“I think that council, today, could function better. Whatever council is presented to us at the end of the 2022 election, I think there are things that any mayor could put in place to have it function better,” McKenney said.

McKenney and Deans have often been allies during this term of council and both spoke about how a crowded field of mayoral candidates could affect their runs.

Deans said she has “great respect” for both Chiarelli and McKenney but will leave it up to Ottawa residents to make their choice.

“Ultimately it will be the people’s decision. Do I think I’m the best candidate? Of course I do, that’s why I’m running for mayor,” she said.

McKenney said that debates during the municipal campaign will be “good for the city” and will help spur new ideas for Ottawa’s future.

“I’ll present my vision during the election and I’m sure there will be many others.”

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Ottawa mayor says ‘buck stops’ with him on LRT issues

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