Jim Watson says he wants to lead Ottawa for four more years, announcing Thursday he plans to run for mayor in 2018 and unofficially kicking off the municipal election campaign.
“I have often said that in politics, you either run on your record, or you run from it. I am very proud of my record and everything we’ve built together,” Mr. Watson said in a statement.
The announcement comes more than 19 months before the next municipal election.
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Mr. Watson was elected mayor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He previously served as mayor of pre-amalgamation Ottawa from 1997 to 2000 as well as an MPP and cabinet minister under former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty.
During his time in office, Mr. Watson has maintained a high profile in the community, overseen construction and planning of the city’s light-rail line and kept property tax increases below the maximum 2.5 per cent increase promised in his 2010 campaign. This year’s increase was two per cent, although rates for water and sewer services are increasing at a higher rate.
In his statement, Mr. Watson said he brought “strong fiscal discipline” back to city hall and touted various developments during his time in office including the new Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards, the new Ottawa Art Gallery and redeveloped Arts Court as well as new recreational facilities in Cumberland, Barrhaven and Kanata.
Mr. Watson’s announcement comes a day after city council approved plans to construct the second stage of Ottawa’s light-rail line that will see the network extended to Orleans, Bayshore, Bowesville and the Ottawa airport by 2023.
A poll published in January found 79 per cent of Ottawa residents approved of Mr. Watson’s performance, the highest rate among big city mayors across Canada.
Residents head to the polls on Monday, October 22, 2018.