Councilor Diane Deans will not run for mayor of Ottawa or seek re-election

“For both personal and professional reasons, I have decided not to participate in the mayoral race this fall.”

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Diane Deans announced Thursday that she will not run for mayor in the fall municipal election, despite previously indicating she wants the corner office at Ottawa City Hall.

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The longtime councilor also said she would not run for re-election in the Gloucester-Southgate ward, ending her political career in Ottawa’s municipal government.

“For both personal and professional reasons, I have decided not to be on the ballot in the mayoral race this fall,” Deans said in a written statement.

Deans said she believes the next mayor needs two terms to adequately address the city’s most pressing issues and that she cannot take that promise at this time.

“After careful consideration, I have concluded that the next mayor will have to commit to eight years (two terms) in his job. Four years will not be enough to put this city on a better path,” Deans said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I can commit to the people of Ottawa that way.”

After Mayor Jim Watson announced in December that he would not run again, Deans was one of two councilors who quickly expressed an interest in succeeding him.

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The other councilor is Catherine McKenney from Somerset ward, who has signed up to run for mayor and started a campaign.

The nomination period for the municipal election has been open since the beginning of May. Candidates cannot fundraise or spend money on their campaigns until they register to run for office.

Deans’ careers in Ottawa municipal government span nearly 28 years. She was first elected in 1994 to Ottawa City Council prior to amalgamation and has represented the south ward of Gloucester-Southgate since amalgamation in 2001.

In recent years, Deans has emerged as a vocal critic of the Watson administration, particularly in reference to the future of the LRT and Lansdowne Park.

The current tenure has been politically explosive for Deans as she rallied against the secrecy surrounding the O-Train Stage 2 procurement process in early 2019.

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She first had the task of chairing the Police Services Board as the Ottawa Police Service faced heightened public scrutiny of its budget and policies. Then, the “Freedom Convoy” took to the streets of downtown in early 2022 and the police response moved into the national spotlight. Peter Sloly resigned as police chief, and the council removed Deans from the chair of the police services board.

Deans has also faced personal challenges in recent years.

In September 2019, she announced that she was leaving the board to receive treatment for ovarian cancer. She returned to the town hall in September 2020.

On Thursday, Deans said the city was at a “crossroads.”

“Ottawa residents need their council to come together and put the needs of the community first,” Deans said. “The next mayor must connect all of Ottawa’s unique communities – rural, suburban and urban – and find a balance that can end the divisions we see today.

Deans is one of the few pre-merger advisers still on the board. Watson was a councilor and mayor before the merger and returned to city hall as mayor in 2010. Barrhaven Coun. Nor is Jan Harder seeking re-election. College Council Rick Chiarelli said he expects re-election.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were seven mayoral candidates, including former Ottawa mayor and MPP Bob Chiarelli.

Candidates for mayor, councilor and school trustee have until August 19 to file election papers or drop out of the race.

The municipal election is on October 24.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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