Bob Chiarelli says he would move Ottawa forward with his experience and leadership capabilities if he is elected mayor.
The polls would suggest the mayoral race has come down to three leading candidates: Catherine McKenney, Mark Sutcliffe and Chiarelli.
McKenney has been a councillor for Somerset ward since 2014. Sutcliffe has been a fixture of the Ottawa journalism scene for years.
Chiarelli is counting on the fact he is the only candidate with experience in the big chair to propel him to victory.
After being on the political sideline for four years, Chiarelli felt now was the time to make a comeback.
“I began seeing myself as a citizen like all the other citizens in Ottawa, and I saw that we had a lot in common,” Chiarelli said. “My perception was that the city was going in the wrong direction in many ways, and certainly, the very, very strong consensus amongst the residents and citizens of Ottawa was that they had the same feeling.”
Chiarelli is counting on his experience to bring an agenda which includes repairing the fractured council left by Mayor Jim Watson and repairing the city’s roads and transit, all while freezing property taxes and departmental budgets at their 2022 levels.
The 81-year-old ex-mayor has big plans on how to tackle the affordable housing issues for students in Ottawa. Chiarelli said he plans to “lobby the federal government to create a national housing program for students.”
Chiarelli, who attended Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., said, “they’re going through hell. That could be solved and should be solved. It’s, I would use the word ‘unkind,’ to have them chasing around for housing the way they do.”
Chiarelli’s career has been spent in politics at both the municipal and provincial levels. He was first elected to office in the 1987 provincial election to serve as the MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean.
In 1997, he resigned his seat to become the regional chair of Ottawa-Carleton. Chiarelli served in this capacity until 2001 when Ottawa-Carleton was amalgamated into the City of Ottawa.
He then became the first mayor of an amalgamated Ottawa, occupying the job until 2006.
In 2010 he ran for his old provincial seat again and won, eventually serving in the cabinet of Premier Kathleen Wynne, until he was defeated in the 2018 election.
The turmoil of the last council session has been brought up by all three major candidates running for mayor, however Chiarelli believes his experience will help to mend the divide.
“There was a lack of transparency coming from the mayor and mayor’s office, even councillors who are finding out at the last minute for committee meetings what is going to be presented for the meeting,” Chiarelli said. “It was not a collegial atmosphere in any way shape or form. Not that they couldn’t have good debates. I always had good debates, sharp debates, but there was always respect.”
Chiarelli is in for a battle in the last few weeks of the campaign. Recent polling from Mainstreet had him in a distant third behind McKenney and Sutcliffe.
When asked why he should be elected mayor, Chiarelli said, “I’ve got the experience, I’ve got the creativity, I’ve got the open-door policy to gather together the best people for ideas moving forward and that’s why I’m running.”
Chiarelli will have stiff competition for the top job from twelve other candidates when the city votes on Oct. 24.