Despite all the veteran politicians who have told us how terrible it is to be a city councilman, a host of good candidates have come forward to provide a new generation of leadership on City Council. Unfortunately, many of them are competing with each other.
Judging from the list of candidates announced just days before Friday’s deadline, the district races fall into three categories; the predictable ones, the well-contested ones, and those where there is no obvious strong competitor.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way. Mildly opposed are incumbent councilmembers Matt Luloff, Theresa Kavanagh, Tim Tierney and Riley Brockington. Laura Dudas and Rawlson King still have no opponent. Whatever the merits of those councilmembers, voters deserve a credible election. For example, in Stittsville, community volunteer Tanya Hein is challenging the perfectly suited Glen Gower.
In many rooms, the image is much brighter. While it’s difficult to assess a candidate’s worth without seeing him or her in action, voters should look for a connection to the district, a history of community involvement, and relevant work or life experience. Warning signs are lack of website, lack of contact information and late entry to the race, although this last point is not necessarily a disqualification.
Some good councilors are not running again and it is critical to replace their leadership. Two names that stand out in this regard are Steve Desroches and Patrick McGarry. Desroches is a former city councilman who promised to resign after two terms and did so in 2014. He is running in Riverside South-Findlay Creek. Desroches was a moderate and sensible adviser. We need it back. McGarry is the COO of Hulse, Playfair and McGarry Funeral and Cremation Services. He would bring a welcome and exceptional business experience to the board. Better yet, McGarry is applying to College Ward, where the Earl is. Rick Chiarelli will not race or win.
Barrhaven residents, who now have two districts, have many options in both. At Barrhaven East, Pat Brennan, a school administrator and financial planner, brings relevant experience, but is part of a strong field of five. In Barrhaven West, Taayo Simmonds, a black lawyer, and military veteran David Hill deserve close scrutiny.
Kanata will also contribute to the new council. Cathy Curry, appointed to the council to fill out the remainder of Jenna Sudds’ term, has quickly become a top contributor and has earned re-election. In Kanata South, veteran councilman and traffic commission chairman Allan Hubley is up against three credible candidates.
At West Carleton-March, there was some concern about who would take over to replace the veteran Earl. Eli El-Chantiry, who made a late decision not to run. There are seven candidates in the race. Dunrobin tech executive and community association president Greg Patacairk seems to have a lot to offer.
Voters also have good options in Alta Vista, where public servant and community association president Marty Carr is running against Carolyn Kropp, who works for MPP John Fraser. In Orleans Sur-Navan, Cond. Catherine Kitts faces off against Yvette Ashiri, a black civil servant with a history of achievement.
In Rideau-Jock, two candidates with roots in the community appear to be the main contenders. Leigh-Andrea Brunet works in continuing education and David Brown has a background in agriculture and as a political aide at city hall. Osgoode could be another interesting rural fight. Count George Darouze is opposed by former Councilman Doug Thompson, among others.
Knoxdale-Merivale pits Sean Devine, a former NDP candidate at the federal and provincial levels, against Myles Egli, the retiring Earl’s brother. Keith Egli. Several others are also running.
In other rooms, it’s hard to see candidates of the caliber of Diane Deans, Mathieu Fleury and Catherine McKenney. The first two have retired and McKenney is running for mayor.
As it appears now, there will be some weak new councilors elected in October, and some weak old councilors will be re-elected. That’s why it’s critical that voters in districts with good options choose carefully.
Randall Denley is a political commentator and author from Ottawa. Contact him at [email protected]