Mark Sutcliffe elected as Ottawa's next mayor
Long-time broadcaster, entrepreneur elected after running on fiscal frugality
Mark Sutcliffe, a longtime broadcaster and entrepreneur who positioned himself as a city hall outsider during this fall's election campaign, will serve as Ottawa's next mayor.
With more than 316,000 ballots cast, Sutcliffe had amassed just over 51 per cent of the votes. His nearest competitor, two-term councillor Catherine McKenney, had just under 38 per cent of the vote.
Former mayor Bob Chiarelli was in third with approximately five per cent. Voter turnout was just under 44 per cent.
"What a beautiful night in Ottawa!" Sutcliffe told a raucous crowd during his victory speech at the Lago events centre at Dows Lake.
"I am feeling a lot of emotions right now: humility, excitement, joy, a lot of relief. But most of all, I am feeling incredible gratitude."
The only one of the top three candidates without elected experience, Sutcliffe was nevertheless familiar to many voters thanks to his years on air at CFRA, CPAC and what's now CityNews Ottawa and Rogers TV.
The 54-year-old campaigned on fiscal frugality, promising to cap property tax increases at 2.5 per cent in 2023 and 2024 and continue to keep them low in 2025 and 2026.
He pledged to find $35 million in municipal savings by, in part, cutting 200 city staff positions.
LISTEN | Mayor elect Marc Sutcliffe's interview with Ottawa Morning on Tuesday
Sutcliffe's platform did include spending promises, including $25 million toward repairing roads and sidewalks and clearing snow. Other promises included forging a "recruitment strategy" to entice family physicians to Ottawa, boosting the city's music and entertainment scenes, and building several new dog parks.
He received endorsements from several former Ottawa mayors, as well as local politicians like Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod and Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi — endorsements he said spoke to his "cross-partisan" support.
"I've learned a lot during this campaign. For one thing, it is more difficult to participate in a debate than to moderate one," Sutcliffe told the crowd, in a nod to his broadcasting roots.
"Also: not everyone wears pants when they answer the door."
'We're going to move forward'
McKenney was one of the first people to jump into the mayor's race after Jim Watson announced last winter he would not seek a fourth straight term.
First elected as councillor for Somerset ward in 2014, McKenney's profile rose when they became a face of public opposition to the weeks-long occupation of Ottawa's downtown by Freedom Convoy protesters.
If elected, they would have become the first trans non-binary mayor of a major Canadian city.
In their concession speech, McKenney acknowledged it wasn't the result their campaign was hoping for, while vowing to wake up Tuesday morning and continue working for the "city that we deserve."
WATCH | Mayoral runner-up gives their speech:
McKenney also congratulated Sutcliffe, saying they truly believed he had a vision and wanted to make Ottawa better.
"It's tough and it's disappointing, but we're going to move forward. We are. We owe that to the thousands of voters that put their faith in our campaign," McKenney told the crowd at the All Saints Event Centre, to cheers.
"Tonight we're going to share some drinks. They're not on me, though! I'm unemployed. There's no soft landing here."
For his part, Sutcliffe said he'd always respected McKenney — and that respect only grew over the course of the campaign.
"Catherine is a trailblazer. Catherine is an incredibly passionate advocate for the most vulnerable," he said. "And Catherine has an unequaled ambition for what our city could be."
Born and raised in Ottawa
Born in Ottawa in 1968, Sutcliffe graduated from St. Pius X High School and was enrolled at Carleton University before dropping out to take a job with rock radio station Chez 106.
He would go on to hold various on-air positions, while also co-founding the Ottawa Business Journal.
Sutcliffe has served on numerous boards including Algonquin College and the Ottawa Board of Trade, while also volunteering for causes like the United Way and the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation.
In 2016, he was appointed to the Order of Ottawa.
An avid long-distance runner, Sutcliffe has also written two books about his experiences, Why I Run and The Road to Boston. He lives in Wellington Village with his wife and their children.