Watson officially enters Ottawa’s mayoral race

Jim Watson, the former Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa-West Nepean, officially entered his name today to the list of six other candidates vying to be Ottawa’s mayor.

Watson revealed his intentions to run for mayor in January, when he resigned from his position as an Ontario cabinet minister. His entry into the mayoral candidate today means he will also be leaving his role as the MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean.

Watson said he made the decision to enter the race during the December holidays, after residents complained to him about decisions made at City Hall, including the bus strike and green bin program.

"The past few years have not been the city's finest, and I believe the residents and taxpayers of this city deserve better," Watson said in a statement. "Leadership and ideas matter. We cannot afford to have another four years like the past four, and I believe my talents can best be used leading the City of Ottawa."

Watson, who served as Ottawa’s mayor between 1997 and 2000, said one of his focuses will be on the proposed $2.1-billion light-rail transit plan, which doesn’t necessarily need a tunnel if it will increase costs.

On Jan. 12, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuity said that in making the decision to run for mayor, Watson “is demonstrating his belief in public service and commitment to improving the lives of families in my hometown of Ottawa.”

Watson has criticized current Mayor Larry O’Brien’s for having raised taxes when he promised not to during the last municipal election. Watson says a zero-per-cent increase is not feasible, as prices naturally increase, but “it takes good leaders to make sure that the costs are contained so that the rates are not exorbitant."

The six other candidates thus far include Councillor Alex Cullen, Sean Ryan, Jane Scharf, Robert Larter, Stanley Pioro and Robert Gauthier. Current Mayor Larry O’Brien has said he will announce in June if he plans to seek re-election.

Ottawa’s municipal election will be held Oct. 25.