We have our first candidate!
Alex Cullen first to announce bid to be mayor
BY KATE JAIMET, THE OTTAWA CITIZENJANUARY 4, 2010 12:03 PM
OTTAWA — Bay Councillor Alex Cullen declared his candidacy for mayor of Ottawa Monday, with promises to raise taxes, oppose Lansdowne Live, support a downtown transit tunnel, and stop the flow of sewage into the Ottawa River.
"You will see a tax increase and you will see a tax increase that will be close to inflation," Cullen said, naming transit, social housing and recycling as areas that will require public investment.
And he criticized mayor Larry O'Brien's broken electoral promise of "zero means zero" tax increases.
"Part of what I'm bringing to the table is honesty," Cullen said. "It's disingenuous to tell the public you can have your cake and eat it, too. You can maintain services without raising taxes."
Replying to a question in French, Cullen said it's possible that the 2011 tax hike could be more than the rate of inflation, but added: "There is always a limit. Taxpayers don't want to pay more than eight per cent or 10 per cent. That's unacceptable."
Cullen, who has held a seat on city council for 15 years, said he will not accept union or corporate contributions to his campaign, despite the need to raise an estimated $400,000 to conduct the race. He supports banning such donations for candidates running for municipal office, and is also in favour of a lobbyist registry to add transparency to City Hall proceedings.
Cullen said that one of his top priorities as mayor will be to build a rapid transit system in Ottawa, including a downtown rail tunnel. He will also push ahead with multi-million dollar initiatives to improve the sewage system and stop sewage overflows into the Ottawa River.
"We are the owners of a legacy that was built before these issues became important. We're going to have to deal with it, and the public understand this cannot be done for free."
Asked whether there was any area where he would cut city services to save money, Cullen could not name one.
"I'm not running to cut a service,"
Cullen criticized his expected opponent, O'Brien, as a "weak mayor" and said that O'Brien's recent vow — to pre-emptively lock out O.C. Transpo workers if faced with the possibility of another winter strike — was "amazing, astonishing, and absolutely repugnant."
"Under my administration there will be no lockout. We have the tools to reach a settlement," he said.
Cullen, whose tenure on council since 1991 has been interrupted only by a brief stint in provincial politics, said he believes he's a "competitive" candidate. However, he would not completely rule out dropping out of the mayoralty race and returning to run in Bay Ward if polls in the summer show him unlikely to win.
"Yeah, that theoretical possibility is there. But I'm not interested. I've been on council for 15 years... I've enjoyed my time, but it's time to move up," he said. "I'm running for mayor and that's my intention. I don't anticipate running for another position."
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
and from the CBC http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/stor...-election.html
As of Monday at noon, longtime Kanata community activist Allan Hubley had already announced that he was running for city councillor in Kanata South, which is currently represented by Peggy Feltmate. Catholic school board trustee Stephen Blais said he was running for city councillor in Cumberland ward, a seat currently held by Rob Jellett.