One of the lead candidates in one of the most contested ward races in Ottawa is putting services ahead of keeping taxes from rising.

“In this election, I’m being opposed by four fiscal conservatives,” said Alex Cullen at a rally yesterday. “Their focus is entirely on keeping taxes down. But folks, taxes is what we use to invest in our community, to help it grow, to help it prosper, to ensure good services, to help our families and to build livable communities.”

Cullen said he wants to build a livable city that is safe, green, clean, inclusive, and one that provides services at a reasonable cost.

Key elements to this vision are: rapid transit to relieve congestion down­- town; to see through the Ottawa River Action Plan; and increasing affordable housing.

“Today the city has over 10,000 families on the social housing waiting list,” said Cullen.

He also wants to lower bus fares for seniors, build better cycling facilities, including a cross-town bike route, hold the line on urban sprawl, and keep the cost of city services affordable. Bay Ward has its own challenges, including serving new immigrant families and the largest seniors population in the city.