Updated Oct. 25, 11:30 a.m.
Broadcaster and political rookie Mark Sutcliffe will be moving into the mayor’s office after defeating his main opponent, Catherine McKenney, in the Oct. 24 municipal election.
A lifelong resident of the nation’s capital, he will take over for Jim Watson, who has been Ottawa’s mayor since 2010.
“What a beautiful night in Ottawa,” Sutcliffe said during the opening remarks of his victory speech at Lago restaurant on Dow’s Lake.
“I love Ottawa, and that’s never been more true than today.”
Sutcliffe’s centrist campaign led him to victory over 13 other candidates, despite having no prior political experience.
After the results became clear, Sutcliffe paid tribute to McKenney and referred to them as a “trailblazer.”
“Catherine is an incredibly passionate advocate for the most vulnerable, and Catherine has an unequalled ambition for what our city can be,” Sutcliffe said.
“I have always admired and respected Catherine, and every day in this campaign I gained even more respect for them.”
Once CTV declared Sutcliffe as the winner, McKenney’s supporters over at All Saints event space in Sandy Hill started booing and some even started leaving before McKenney could start their speech.
McKenney expressed disappointment in the results but gratitude for the support they received.
“This is not the result we hoped for but here we are. It’s tough and it’s disappointing but we are going to move forward,” McKenney said.
They encouraged supporters to share drinks, stories and tears.
“Tomorrow we will get back up and keep working to create the city we deserve,” McKenney said. “One night and one loss will not keep us down for long.”
McKenney will end their term as councillor for Somerset Ward on Nov. 14, the end of the current four-year term. They have held the ward seat since 2014.
The unofficial results had Sutcliffe winning 51.37 per cent of the vote, ahead of the 37.88 per cent captured by McKenney.
Bob Chiarelli, the only candidate with previous mayoral experience, won 5.08 per cent of the vote.
At a Carling Avenue restaurant, Chiarelli thanked his supporters, friends and family after learning he would not become Ottawa’s next mayor. He said he felt like he could have fixed transit problems but will assist Sutcliffe if needed. Chiarelli said Ottawa transit had an “unpredictable future, escalating losses and unreliable service.”
To cap off his short speech, which touched on his long career in politics, Chiarelli offered: “You know what? I just might run again.” A friend replied, “You always say that, Bob.”
The unofficial voter turnout was 43.79 per cent.
Sutcliffe spent his career in media and has been a fixture in the Ottawa journalism scene for years. He founded the Ottawa Business Journal, hosted a radio show on CFRA and has written columns for the Ottawa Citizen.
Before the election, Sutcliffe released a list of priorities for his first 100 days in office, which included passing a city budget that caps the property tax increase to between 2 and 2.5 per cent, freezing transit fares and reducing recreation fees for children and youth by 10 per cent.
Sutcliffe told his supporters he promises to be a mayor for all of Ottawa.
“I am feeling a lot of emotions right now: humility, excitement, a lot of relief, but most of all, I’m feeling incredible gratitude,” Sutcliffe said.
On Nov. 15, he’ll join a revamped city council that includes 11 new ward councilors.
“Tonight, we are going to celebrate. But tomorrow we will get to work,” Sutcliffe said.
– with files from Leslie Bader and Tyler Beauchesne