Ottawa·ELECTION 2018

Number of women on Ottawa city council nearly doubles

Though there were few female names on the ballot, many of those who ran won their seats — or came close.

Four female first-time councillors were elected, along with three incumbents

Ottawa elected four new women to council, from left: Theresa Kavanagh, Laura Dudas, Jenna Sudds and Carol Anne Meehan. (CBC)

Carol Anne Meehan literally jumped for joy when she learned how many other women would be joining her on Ottawa's new city council.

"Seven! That's improvement, I love it!" she exclaimed.

Women's advocates have been concerned for years over the number of women on council.

With only four elected in 2014, it was sometimes difficult to make sure there was one woman on every committee.

Advocates tried to help female candidates overcome some of the obstacles that often keep women out of the city's halls of power.

Despite their efforts only 19 per cent of candidates in this election were women.

Though there were few female names on the ballot, many of those who ran won their seats — or came close to it.

Ottawa's female councillors are:

  • Incumbent Diane Deans in Gloucester-Southgate
  • Incumbent Catherine McKenney in Somerset
  • Incumbent Jan Harder in Barrhaven
  • Carol Anne Meehan in Gloucester-South Nepean
  • Theresa Kavanagh in Bay
  • Laura Dudas in Innes
  • Jenna Sudds in Kanata North

"They're bright, they're passionate and they just want to get things done," Meehan said of her fellow elected women.

Seven other women came second, including Raylene Lang-Dion, just 201 votes shy of incumbent Jean Cloutier in Alta Vista ward.

It's difficult to take the initiative and put yourself through a campaign, said Dudas in Innes ward, but it's worth it for council to better reflect the community.

"I would certainly encourage more women and more people in diverse communities to get involved," she said.

Still, seven women is nothing to brag about, according to Kavanagh in Bay Ward.

While it is a breakthrough after several years of limited representation of women's issues at city hall, it's still far from gender balanced.

"I hope we're not satisfied by that. I hope we go beyond it," she said.

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