This is the statement issued this morning by Mayor Jim Watson saying he will run for re-election in 2018:
I am writing today to let you know that I will be seeking re-election as Mayor of Ottawa in the 2018 municipal election.
I have often said that in politics, you either run on your record, or you run from it. I am very proud of my record and everything we’ve built together.
I am proud that I have been able to bring back strong fiscal discipline to City Hall, while maintaining the important municipal services that our residents, families and businesses count on.
I have set out a plan and a vision on how to make Ottawa a world-class city. I am happy to say that, by working together with my Council colleagues and the community, we have made significant progress moving the benchmark forward on innovation and smart growth across our city.
I committed to keeping taxes at an affordable rate and I am proud to say that, with a lot of creative thinking and hard work, every year of my tenure as Mayor, we have met our tax cap and provided greater stability and predictability for our residents.
And after years of false starts, lawsuits and cancellations, we are now on the verge of witnessing the opening of our new Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, on time and on budget. More importantly, just yesterday, we approved the plan for Stage 2 of our LRT system that will see us go farther East to Place d’Orléans and Trim Road; farther south to the Airport and Riverside South, and farther West to Algonquin College, Bayshore Shopping Centre, and now to Moodie Drive and the new DND complex – all faster than originally planned.
And while LRT has been a key focus over the past term, we have also invested in projects that have been on the City’s priority list for a long time. I am proud we have moved from talk to action and are making these projects a reality.
This year, we will formally open our new Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards, as well as the new Ottawa Art Gallery and redeveloped Arts Court. This is in addition to the new recreational facilities we have already opened in Cumberland, Barrhaven and Kanata.
After 30 years of inaction, Lansdowne Park has been revitalized and has become a success with both residents and visitors.
The future will hold a number of major city building projects – ideas that need a leader with a track record of getting things done. Transformative projects like Zibi, LeBreton Flats, and the new Central Library. Over the next number of years, our city will see the development of the former Rockcliffe Air Base, which is one of the last remaining significant redevelopment sites in the urban part of the city, and will be the single largest development within the Greenbelt since amalgamation.
Our environment continues to be an important part of our plan, as we implement the Ottawa River Action Plan; Energy Evolution catalyst projects; plant one million trees across our city and our Canada 150 Maple Groves, and continue to advance our renewable energy strategy and energy retrofits of our buildings.
And we are firing on all cylinders with our tourism sector, as we continue to celebrate Canada’s 150 th birthday like nowhere else, as part of our successful Ottawa 2017 tourism initiative.
Whether it’s adding new police officers and paramedics, working closely with our business community and postsecondary institutions, or upgrading our rural roads, I am proud of our track record of getting things done for the betterment of our city and its residents – all within a framework of fiscal responsibility.
Serving as Mayor of our City has been a tremendous honour. I am grateful for this opportunity each and every day I walk into City Hall or I’m out and about in our community.
I often hear the old joke that “Watson would go to the opening of an envelope,” and I always take that as a compliment. You need to be out in our communities as much as you’re at City Hall. Being in the amazing neighbourhoods that make up our city always reaffirms my belief that we live in a very special place, made up of incredible people.
I get to see the kindness of a church sponsoring a Syrian refugee family in Kanata; or a young brother and sister in Orléans selling lemonade to raise money for CHEO, or the Nepean volunteer who drives patients to the Queensway Carleton Hospital for cancer treatments.
I want to thank the many friends and residents who have contacted me over the past few weeks asking me to run again. I very much appreciate the kind words and encouragement.
I want to take a moment to tell you about a recent handwritten letter I received from a resident who took the time to encourage me to continue this important work. She wrote in part:
‘’I would like you to continue. I am 87 years of age and would like to feel confident our city is in good hands. I’m sure there are many others who feel as I do. To tell you the truth and in plain English, I feel safe…You have had a lot of experience in politics and know the good with the bad. Either way, you conduct yourself with maturity and as a gentleman.’’
This letter and every letter I receive from residents is a gift. These letters are an illustration of people’s commitment to the city we call home. I take their words to heart as I recognize that their trust in me must be earned every day through my actions and my hard work.
A few weeks ago, when I was in Stittsville, I ran into a gentleman who stopped me and said, “I have something to tell you.”
Those kinds of words could easily go in two different directions.
But in this case, I got lucky. He said, “I didn’t vote for you last time, but I like that you get things done and you do more doing than yapping! I hope you run again.”
With that, he shook my hand and I thanked him.
Later when I reflected on this encounter, I realized how proud I am of the progress we have made, and I am optimistic about what can be achieved in the future. I also feel that I have a good sense of the work that we must face as a growing, dynamic city. This work fills me with confidence and a strong desire to continue to build the solid partnerships it takes to get things done.
Our city is in the midst of its most significant transformation in a generation, and with the support of the people of Ottawa, I hope to continue to play a small part in our beautiful city’s bright future.
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