Ottawa

Rawlson King vows to take on poverty in Rideau-Rockcliffe

Newly elected Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King says he's eager to get to work on the problems facing Overbrook, a high-needs, low-income neighbourhood in his ward.

'We should do things right rather than just doing them quickly,' council's newest member says

Newly minted Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King says he didn't get much sleep after his byelection win Monday night because he felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. (Kristy Nease/CBC)

Newly elected Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King says he's eager to get to work on the problems facing Overbrook, a high-needs, low-income neighbourhood in his ward.

According to unofficial results, King received 1,529 votes in Monday night's byelection — 18.36 per cent — to win over second-place finisher Jamie Kwong, who got 1,406 votes.

King had received endorsements from Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard, and unsuccessful 2018 mayoral candidate and former city councillor Clive Doucet.

On CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, just hours after the byelection, King told host Robyn Bresnahan he's not worried about being pegged as an "NDP" councillor, like the politicians who offered him their support.

'People and communities first'

"I haven't had a party membership in some time. I'm an independent guy. But that doesn't mean that I can't be progressive and make cause with other progressives ... on a progressive platform that puts people and communities first, rather than big business and developer interests," he said.

"I ran very clearly on that. I wasn't ambiguous about that."

Rawlson King on Rideau-Rockcliffe win 1:57

In particular, King wants to focus on "serious, weighty issues" facing Overbrook, a neighbourhood he's represented as president of its community association.

Half of Overbrook's children live in poverty, he said, in an "increasingly marginalized" area with a high concentration of social housing.

King said he hopes to continue work on former councillor Tobi Nussbaum's plan for a poverty alleviation strategy, and to drum up talk at city hall about the issue.

City's 1st black city councillor

Bringing another diverse voice to council — Rawlson is Ottawa's first-ever black councillor — should help, he said.

"Representation is a serious issue, and impacts delivery of all sorts of public services. And it's important to have somebody around the table that really might have a wider sense of what the impact of those services are ... whether those services are delivered well, or if they're wanting," King said.

During the campaign, he heard from many residents about the need to improve declining roads, public transit and social services. King also said he wants Ottawa police to continue improving its relationship with racialized groups. 

He supports Menard's push to declare a climate emergency in Ottawa, and said he would have voted against city council's decision to approve Stage 2 of light rail.

"The reality is, we have to know how we're dispensing of public money. That's the primary reason why you send a city councillor to city hall," King said.

"We should do things right rather than just doing them quickly."

King was sworn in Tuesday and will be welcomed to council at a reception at 2:30 p.m. in the mayor's boardroom.

CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning

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