O'Brien runs away with Ottawa mayoral race

It was supposed to be a close mayoral race in Ottawa, but it wasn't, as technology executive Larry O'Brien ran away with the election.

What had been billed as the tightest mayoral race in Ottawa's history has proved to be anything but.

Technology executive Larry O'Brien, a political newcomer,took the early leadand won with141,262 votes, or 47 per cent of the vote, easilybeatingformer city councillor Alex Munter bymore than33,000votes.
New Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien received 47 per cent of the popular vote. ((CBC))

Muntercame in second with 108,752 votes, or 36 per cent.

IncumbentBob Chiarelli collectedonly 46,697 votes, bringing to an end nine years at Ottawa's helm — including two terms as Ottawa's mayor and one term as the regional chair of Ottawa-Carleton.

Coming into the election, O'Brien'swin certainly did notseem assured. As recently asThursday,polls put Munter in the lead, although a poll released on Saturday suggested O'Brien had pulled ahead.

But in the end,O'Brientrounced histwo main opponents, who have both served municipally. As well, Chiarelli and Munter both speak French, while O'Briendoesn't, even though Ottawa has a significant francophone population.

O'Brien's victory was greeted Monday by a thick crowd of supporters at the Broadway Bar and Grill, where he was congratulated withsmiles, hugs and handshakes before he took the podium.

"The people of Ottawa have respectfully voted for change,"O'Brientold the crowd after Chiarelli introduced him.

'The city is not a business, but they want it to start being run like a business.'- Larry O'Brien, election winner

O'Briensaid the change endorsed by voters ishis vision ofa tax freezeand a safer, cleaner city.

"The city is not a business, but they want it to start being run like a business," he said.

O'Brien praised Chiarelli for making the mayoral race an exciting one.

"You play as good as your competition," he said, "and the competition in this race was extremely good."

More voters than last election

Both Chiarelli and Munter took their losses graciously and congratulated O'Brien's team on running a smart campaign.

Chiarelli joined O'Brien at his victory party and offered to helpthe new mayorwith the transition to office.

"I pledge my full support to Larry O'Brien," he said.

"Being mayor of a big city is a tremendous challenge. It's a complicated job and we need to come together and build consensus and we need to get behind this mayor to make the job doable."

Munter extended his own personal best wishes to O'Brien.

  Unofficial Ottawa election results as of 11:50 p.m. Nov. 13. 
Larry O'Brien141,262 47.08 %
Alex Munter108,752 36.25 %
Bob Chiarelli 46,697 15.56 %
Jane Scharf1,467 0.49 %
Piotr Anweiler7620.25 %
Robert Larter 6670.22 %
Barkley Pollock 432 0.14 %
Total300,039100.00 %

"He ran a truly impressive campaign and as he enters office at this crucial time in the history of the city of Ottawa, it is important for the good of our city that he succeeds," Munter told supporters at the Lord Elgin Hotel, adding that he looked forward to working with his former opponent in the future.

The remaining four mayoral candidates took only 3,328 votes between them, led byJane Scharf,with1,467 votes.

Robert Larter came sixth out of seven candidates,even though he did not campaign.

In all, 300,039 people turned out to vote — a significant gain from 2003, when only 185,017, or 33 per cent of571,802 voters, went to the polls.

Incumbent councillors win

With the exception of the mayor's race, it was a good year for incumbents — no sitting city councillors were unseated.

However, there will be a few new faces on council, thanks in part to two new wards.

Marianne Wilkinson will represent Kanata North (Ward 4), one of the two wards formed by the division of the Kanata ward. (Incumbent Peggy Feltmate held onto Kanata South).

And Steve Desrochesbeat out Andy Haydon —former regional chair of Ottawa-Carleton — torepresentthe new ward of Gloucester-South Nepean (Ward 22)in a close race afterHaydon was initially declared the winner by some media.

Elsewhere, Shad Qadri took the council seat for Stittsville-Kanata West (Ward 6), left behind by retiring councillor Janet Stavinga. And Christine Leadman will represent the Kitchissippi (Ward 15) seat vacated by Shawn Little.