Cumberland Ward residents have less than a week to decide who they are going to vote for in the Oct. 5 by-election. In fact, many have already made up their minds, having already voted by a mail-in ballot or during one of the advance polls held earlier this week.
For those who haven’t voted yet, you can be sure the candidates will do everything they can to persuade you to cast a ballot in their favour on Oct. 5.
Several of the candidates recently con-tacted by The Star said they would be spending all the time and energy they have left to identify their supporters and ensure they cast their ballot on Monday.
The polls will open at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, registered voters can vote at any polling station in the ward. Face masks will be mandatory while in the polling station and physical distancing of at least two metres will be in place.
There are 10 candidates on the ballot, most of whom have their own websites where their position on the various issues can be found. A full list of the candidates with their contact information can be found at ottawa.ca/elections.
Former Orléans Star editor Catherine Kitts is among the top three candidates in the running to replace former Cumberland ward councillor Stephen Blais along with social activist Yvette Ashiri and Ottawa Community Voice managing editor Patrick Uguccioni.
Carlsbad Springs Community Association president Denis Lébreche is expected to pick up quite a few votes in the rural part of the ward as will volunteer firefighter Henry Valois and Uguccioni, who is originally from Carlsbad Springs and seen as the most right-leaning of the top tier candidates.
That leaves Avalon south of Innes Road and east of Mer Bleue where the NDP-backed Ashiri and long-time Liberal Lyse-Pascale Inamuco should do well. Whether or not they will do well enough to out poll Kitts and the other front-runners will be determined on Monday.
Kitts and Ashiri both have a strong ground game in terms of organization and volunteers. Although Kitts has been endorsed by a number of local Liberals including Blais, she is also receiving a lot of support from long-time Conservative Party supporters in the rural part of the ward.
Ashiri is seen as the most progressive of the front-runners having been endorsed by the left-leaning progressive organization Horizon Ottawa as well as Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden.
The biggest obstacle all of the candidates have had to overcome during the by-elec-tion campaign is the pandemic. Having to wear a face mask for hours on end while maintaining proper physical distancing has made traditional door-to-door canvassing a challenge to say the least. The candidate who has best been able to overcome that challenge, either through organization, the use of social media, or both, will in all like-lihood win the seat.
Among the key issues the candidates have had to address during the campaign are transit, the ward boundary review, the city’s handling of the pandemic and excessive speeding on residential streets.
Whoever wins the by-election will have to deal with all four issues as well as the 2021 budget process and the challenge of limiting the next year’s tax increase to three per cent in the face of a massive drop in revenues due to the pandemic.
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