Ottawa city council has appointed its own new member to fill the vacant seat in Kanata North, tapping a former Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) trustee as the west-end ward’s new representative.
Cathy Ann Greene Curry was one of 20 candidates making five-minute pitches to city council Wednesday in their bids to replace Jenna Sudds, who resigned from her seat in September after her successful campaign to represent Kanata—Carleton in the federal election.
Afterwards, councillors cast votes for their preferred candidate, with Curry securing the 50 per cent of council’s support she needed with 12 ballots on the first round of voting.
She beat out the next closest contender, former Kanata North councillor Marianne Wilkinson, who received eight votes.
Curry is a former trustee and chair of the OCDSB and 29-year resident of Kanata North, she explained to councillors in her pitch.
She championed her “consultative” approach and outlined a number of charitable endeavours and boards she serves on — CHEO, Ronald McDonald House and the Ottawa Community Foundation among them — as part of her suitability for the role.
Curry also said she was familiar with the legal file to uphold the 40-per-cent green space agreement as part of ClubLink’s application to develop a golf course in the ward, a key battle that’s currently undergoing appeals.
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Wilkinson had been presented as the top choice of community associations in Kanata as a steady hand who could represent residents on planning applications, budget consultations and the ClubLink file.
But Curry said she, too, had consulted with the leaders of local community associations as well as Sudds and MPP Merrilee Fullerton and was ready to represent constituents on the ward’s most pressing issues.
“The voices of Kanata residents will influence me more than anything else. I commit to continuing the consultative tradition I was best known for as Kanata’s trustee,” she said.
Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans asked Curry whether she would put her name on the ballot in the upcoming 2022 municipal election, but she declined to give a yes-or-no answer.
“I would have to see how this goes, I could be convinced either way,” she said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mayor Jim Watson said that councillors could not hold candidates to a decision whether or not to run a year from now.
“There’s nothing that we can do to prevent someone from running again,” he said, though he acknowledged that incumbents often have the advantage in an election.
Some councillors expressed discomfort with handing an unelected representative the incumbent advantage in 2022, while others said running for election is an opportunity to hold the successful applicant to account for their year in office.
City staff had recommended holding a byelection to fill the vacant seat in January, but council opted for the appointment process as an expedient and more affordable option.
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