Carol Anne Meehan, the popular and much loved broadcaster who was beamed into our living rooms for years delivering the news beside Max Keeping, is entering politics.
Meehan told On the City, From the Burbs she will register this morning to
run for city councillor in Gloucester-South Nepean, taking on incumbent Michael Qaqish.
Rumours of Meehan’s entry into politics have been running rampant in recent days. She has decided to become a candidate, believing the ward needs stronger representation than it’s been getting.
It wasn’t an easy decision.
As the single mom of Evan and Elena Etue, 19 and 14 respectively, she needed to feel she could balance the demands of campaigning with being a mom.
“It was a difficult decision. They’re my number one priority. But I talked to them and they’re both behind me on this,” she said.
And of course there’s Gizmo, her 11-year old puppy.
Though perhaps best known for her years at the helm of the CJOH/CTV anchor desk, Meehan is more importantly – in terms of this municipal race – a longtime resident of the area who understands firsthand the issues facing the ward’s residents.
“We’re a really fast growing part of this city. And we have a very diverse population. And I want to be a more present city councillor. I don’t think we’ve been getting that. I see (incumbent Michael Qaqish) as an absentee councillor,” Meehan said.
And as a self-described fiscal conservative, Qaqish’s spending of around $90,000 on advertising and the like – including more than $6,000 of taxpayers’ money plastering his face on bus shelters – absolutely rubbed her the wrong way.
“I really found that a terribly frivolous use of our money,” Meehan said.
“I’m a long time resident of Ottawa and I’ve watched the city change in so many ways. There have been such great improvements, but we’re also seeing problems arise, like increased traffic congestion. And instead of sitting back and complaining about it, I realized I should just try to make a difference.”
Transportation is high on her list of concerns, along with the rise in crime and violence throughout the city.
She knows she has a lot to learn.
“The one thing about being in journalism you always have to ask questions. I’m not going to be shy about it. And I’ll have help as I learn to navigate the process,” she said.
While her candidacy is new, she has some strong support from Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder, who encouraged her to run.
Harder’s support means a lot to her – and it’s very rare for a sitting city councillor to go against a fellow councillor.
Others already lending their support include former Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Steve Desroches, former senator Marjory LeBreton and former Ottawa city staffer Heather Tessier, along with several local business leaders in the ward.
Along with Qaqish, Zaff Ansari and Irene Mei are also registered in the race. And there’s talk of another entering the race today. Nominations close early this afternoon.