Heat is on in Innes

Here’s the truth. Talk of a boring municipal election has been greatly exaggerated.
Yes, your money is good on Mayor Jim Watson soaring to victory on Oct. 22. And sadly, when there isn’t a strong mayoral race, voting tends to drop off. But there are several fascinating ward races taking place and their outcomes can change the face of council.

Fingers crossed.

One of those deserving attention is Innes ward, where four strong challengers are vying to represent the area left without an incumbent by the exit of Jody Mitic. The four vying for their community’s vote are Laura Dudas, Donna Leith-Gudbranson, Tammy Lynch and François Trépanier. All four have pretty good resumes.
Lynch worked in Mitic’s office; Trepanier has been a longtime volunteer and like Dudas, ran in the last election; Leith-Gudbranson has been a long-time volunteer and resident, and worked for both former Innes Coun. Rainer Bloess and Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney; Laura Dudas has also volunteered for many years in her community, ran last election and has first-hand knowledge of how the city works as a city employee (she’s on a leave of absence).

Dare I say, after watching the Rogers debate, save for Leith-Gudbranson, the quartet needs some schooling in debates.
Leith-Gudbranson has a calm about her, while Dudas appeared to be almost rushed, and too loud.

But in the end, two candidates have emerged as the top contenders: Dudas and Leith-Gudbranson.
Ottawa, being the small big city it is, I have a relationship of sorts with both of them.
Dudas is a former colleague of mine from the Ottawa Sun. She was volunteering even back then, spending part of her time helping out the paper’s union. I admired her then, still do.

Leith-Gudbranson, for much of her time working for Bloess, was going through the horrendous ordeal of her youngest son Dennis suffering from cancer. With his future uncertain, the two of us shared many tears, bonding as mothers. Her experience with Dennis led her to volunteerism with CHEO, the hospital which helped save her son’s life.
Both women are strong candidates, both know the issues, know the ward, care about the ward and volunteer in the ward.
That’s clear.
It’s concerning that Dudas accepted the endorsement of River Coun. Riley Brockington, a train wreck of a candidate. What was she thinking?
She put that endorsement on some of her campaign material. Not smart.

Leith-Gudbranson, during the Rogers debate, was confident and calm. She knows the issues, she’s part of the community and cares about it. She’s also the only female running in Innes who is fluently bilingual. In this ward, that counts for a lot.

Everything considered, Leith-Gudbranson gets a strong nod for your vote.

It’s Your Vote

For starters, let me make it clear I have the utmost admiration and respect for anyone who registers to run for political office.
Having done it myself, I know the time and effort most of you are putting out there. It’s not easy. Hats off to all of you.
And believe me, before I ran myself, I didn’t have an appreciation for what it takes to be a candidate. Knocking on doors and receiving blank stares from people who didn’t know there was an election and have never heard of you can be challenging!

But the opportunity to meet new people, to discuss the issues they care about – and those they don’t – yes – priceless.
I will never regret running, it was an amazing experience, though admittedly losing was harder than I anticipated.

That being said, some candidates – in my mind – are taking on incumbents that are serving their constituents well. And while debate is always good, simply put, from where I write – several deserve re-election for the way they’ve served their ward. This of course isn’t true for all incumbents. But more on that later.

A broken wrist has prevented me from getting to any of the all-candidates debates. But I’ve researched all of the candidates, watched anything related to the all-candidate debates, read their election material and media content. When judging incumbents, I take into consideration how they represent their ward, their city and how effective they are at council,

But please, don’t take my word for any of this, educate yourself and if you read me at all, just either ignore me or consider me as another research tool you may want to consider.
It’s your vote, not mine.

So to be clear, these first two endorsements are for two incumbents who I believe both deserve to be re-elected.

For starters, there’s Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney – a dedicated constituent worker who practices what she preaches. When I phoned her recently for a story I was working on, she was campaigning on a scooter! She doesn’t just represent her ward, she’s a part of it. One of her most admirable traits – and this will be a common theme in my endorsements – is her willingness to take on Mayor Jim Watson. That puts her in a very selective – and very admirable – group on council. When you spar with Watson, you do so at your own risk.

McKenney appears to simply do what she believes is right. She really does practice what she preaches. Many of her council colleagues seem far too willing to bow to his behind-the-scenes demands – believing if they don’t do the mayor’s bidding – their wards will lose out. McKenney doesn’t let him ride rough shod over her. She represents her ward. Plain and simple.
If I were making my vote in Somerset ward, despite our sometimes political differences, I wouldn’t hesitate to cast my ballot for McKenney, a mother, a wife and a strong leader on council. Somerset residents are lucky to have her.

Many of the same accolades can be given to Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who represents one of the most difficult wards in the city. The neighbourhoods are diverse – often placing conflicting demands on their councillor. Just ask former city councillor Katherine Hobbs who had difficulty juggling the varying interests of the ward. A strong believer in public transit, Leiper is also a big proponent of increasing bike safety – and yes – he is a four-season cycler. No surprise there.

Leiper is facing longtime activist Daniel Stinger. I have a lot of time for Stringer. He’s the real deal. But it’s near impossible to take on an incumbent who’s doing a great job. And Leiper is.
When Leiper heard changes to bus routes were negatively hurting Barrhaven residents, he went out to a Barrhaven public meeting to hear their concerns first-hand. Very impressive. And that’s how he operates. (Editors Note: This blog originally wrote Leiper took the bus to Barrhaven. Leiper says he in fact drove to the meeting.) A strong ward rep with a vision for the city. Definitely mayoral material.
Leiper keeps his residents happy. He’s one of them.