After months of speculation, Jim Watson made it official Tuesday.
The minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and MPP of Ottawa West-Nepean announced his candidacy for mayor of Ottawa in the municipal election on Oct. 25.
Watson, 48, stepped down from the provincial cabinet Tuesday in order to declare his intentions, and will also step down as MPP prior to the Legislature reconvening in order to formally register as a candidate.
“For the past several months, I have been approached by a wide range of people — some of whom I know and others, complete strangers, who have urged me to run for mayor,” Watson stated in a press release.
He brings to the race two decades of public service experience. From 1991-2000, Watson served on Ottawa council first as a city councillor, then as mayor.
He was also president of the Canadian Tourism Commission, a federal Crown corporation, and in 2003, was elected MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean and as Consumer and Business Services Minister, as Ontario’s first Minister of Health Promotion and most recently, as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The public has become frustrated about the direction and performance of city hall, Watson said.
“The past few years have not been the city’s finest and I believe the residents and taxpayers of this city deserve better.”
Watson said that he has “become more and more concerned with the lack of progress on major issues facing our city.
“There is much work to be done. We must commit ourselves to a greener, more sustainable way of living; support our cultural community; empower citizens to take greater responsibility; strengthen our neighbourhoods; create an environment that supports innovation and entrepreneurs; and simplify the work of city hall. All of this, and more, but with the full understanding that we must live within our means.”
Watson said over the course of the campaign, he will outline a plan — a collection of ideas and plans generated by a community — to help restore the city’s sense of purpose and stature.
The upcoming election will be about leadership, Watson said.
“More specifically, it will be about a different style of leadership — one that strives to bring people of different backgrounds and points-of-view together for the greater good of our community.
“We cannot afford to have another four years like the past four,” he said.
“I look forward to spending time listening to the public and outlining my vision to help Ottawa regain its reputation as a great place to live, work and visit,” he added.
More to come.