Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will not seek re-election

Ottawa's longest serving mayor says he won't seek re-election in the fall of 2022, which will end his current tenure at 12 years.

Ottawa's longest-serving mayor says he won't seek a fourth term

Mayor Jim Watson says he won't run for mayor again in 2022. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Ottawa's longest serving mayor says he won't seek re-election.

Mayor Jim Watson posted a statement Friday morning to say he does not intend to run again in the 2022 municipal election.

Not counting his time as mayor of pre-amalgamation Ottawa, Watson is the longest serving mayor of the nation's capital. At the time of next fall's election, he will have been mayor for 12 years.

As recently as Wednesday night, Watson said he'd announce his decision by the end of December. But in his statement, he says he knew on election night of 2018 that this term would be his last. 

"The decision was both easy and tough," Watson writes. "On the one hand, I loved almost every hour of every day and it was a true privilege and honour to serve as our city's Mayor.

"However, I also knew that I would be turning 60 during this term of council, and if I was going to have one more career, then I needed to move on from elected office. So, for the first time in many years, my name won't be on a ballot."

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, centre, rides the Confederation Line with a number of other city officials and politicians in August 2019. (Joanne Chianello/CBC)

LRT, Lansdowne as key achievements

In his statement, Watson says he's proud of seeing through a number of initiatives that "were stuck in neutral." Key among these are the light rail system and the Lansdowne redevelopment, which both started under his predecessor Larry O'Brien, but were brought to reality under Watson's tenure.

Watson concedes in his statement the LRT "has been frustrating beyond belief and a massive letdown to its users." But he also says he believes "we have turned the corner with much better, reliable and consistent service for the people of Ottawa."

He also lists the Ottawa Art Gallery and Arts Court, the new central library, and welcoming 4,000 Syrian refugees to Ottawa among his accomplishments.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will reach 12 years in his tenure as of next fall's municipal election, which is his second go-around as the mayor of the nation's capital. (CBC)

Watson a career politician

Watson has been a fixture in Ottawa politics for decades, including as the president of the residence association at Carleton University in the 1980s. He first ran for council in the old City of Ottawa in 1991 in Capital ward and was later elected mayor in 1997. 

He decided against running for mayor of the amalgamated city and left politics to run the Canadian Tourism Commission for a couple of years. In 2003, he was elected as the MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean. During his time at Queen's Park, he held a number of cabinet portfolios, including minister for municipalities and affordable housing.

Watson ran for mayor in 2010, where he was elected for this current tenure. He was re-elected in 2014 and 2018 with overwhelming majorities.



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