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CBC Ottawa

The mayor's mea culpa

I've interviewed mayor Larry O'Brien many, many times over the last four years. I don't claim to know him well, but I can tell you I have never seen him quite like I did today. He was subdued, humble, and contrite. There was no swagger, just a very earnest plea to voters. We were speaking about the new poll by Holinshed Research Group. Asked: "If the municipal election were held today, who would you vote for the mayor of Ottawa? (Supporting & Leaning)," 36 per cent of the 396 respondents picked Jim Watson, and just 16.6 per cent chose O'Brien. Nearly 30 per cent were undecided. I asked the mayor what he thought of that, and here's some of his response:

"I think it confirms something that I've been feeling for a number of week, that there's a lot of people out there that voted for me that are, quite frankly they're disappointed in what I did during the first couple of years, and I have to admit that my first two years weren't very good. I was a novice, I made a lot of mistakes, I created a lot of my own problems. And (I) started to catch on after I made a...made a significant effort to understand really what this job is. It's a big job, and as I started to become more comfortable with this, quite frankly biggest job I've ever had in my life, things started to move forward and I'm hoping I can ask for the support of my, you know the people who wanted me to succeed four years ago, ask them to think about supporting me again. The next four years won't be like the last four years. It'll be like the last year times four."

A frank admission, and a big promise. O'Brien will now want to focus squarely on that 30 per cent who haven't decided who they'll vote for. It's also worth noting that, while 64 per cent want a change, 23 per cent think O'Brien has done a good job and deserves to be re-elected.

The telephone poll was conducted from September 28th to October 1st. Three-hundred and ninety-six people responded. The results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 4.92 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The pollster calls that margin "within the industry standard" for this kind of survey.

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