Watson wins Ottawa mayor's race

Jim Watson has won the race to be Ottawa's next mayor after a 10-year hiatus, defeating incumbent Larry O'Brien and several other candidates.
Jim Watson celebrates at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on Byron Street. ((Kate Porter/CBC))

Jim Watson has won Ottawa's mayoral election after a 10-year hiatus.

Watson grabbed 49 per cent of Monday's vote, while his nearest competitor, incumbent Larry O'Brien, had 24 per cent. Clive Doucet garnered 15 per cent of the vote, while Andy Haydon took seven per cent.

"I think certainly there was a desire for change," Watson told CBC News minutes after he claimed victory. "I feel very good, very honoured."

The mayor-elect said voters were concerned with a number of issues, from public transit to the city budget. He said his election platform "wasn't flashy," but "wasn't something we just dreamt up."

Watson, who will take over mayoral duties on Dec. 1, said he will work closely with O'Brien to ensure a smooth transition.

"Obviously, the budget is going to be the biggest priority," Watson said, noting the election has cut into the time normally spent organizing city finances.

He also said he was looking forward to meeting the many new city councillors — there will be at least six — elected in Ottawa.

'A good blend'

"I think it's both a good challenge and a wonderful opportunity," Watson said. "I think we're going to have a good blend of some new councillors, as well as some veterans."

O'Brien — who served only one term as mayor — called Watson shortly after 8:30 to congratulate him and held a press conference at 9 p.m.

"We have the potential to become the best city in the country," O'Brien said, adding he hoped the new government would not change plans for expanded light-rail transit or the Lansdowne Park project.

Watson's supporters exploded with applause when the news of his win was announced at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on Ottawa's Byron Street. Watson is expected to speak there shortly after 9 p.m.

"I'm deeply honoured. This is my sixth election campaign and I never take an election for granted," he said.

Watson is a former MPP for the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean and was a provincial cabinet minister with Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government.

He previously served as Ottawa's mayor from 1997 to 2000 and was a city councillor for six years before that.