There is no day off for Ottawa’s mayor-elect Mark Sutcliffe.
Only hours after winning the city’s top job Monday night, Sutcliffe spent the day Tuesday in meetings and on the phone with staff and supporters, preparing for his new political role.
“It is sinking in, but it still feels a bit surreal,” says Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe was elected as Ottawa’s new mayor in one of the tightest mayoral races in the city for more than a decade. In the end, he received 51-percent of the vote, his nearest opponent Catherine McKenney receiving 38-percent.
With only a few hours of sleep, Sutcliffe says the day has been busy.
“I was at City Hall this morning, getting up to date on a few things and figuring out what the next few weeks are going to be like- that was really interesting. A lot of people were congratulating me, it’s been great, but it is still sinking in.”
Sutcliffe says he spoke briefly with Mayor Jim Watson who offered congratulations. Premier Doug Ford also called Sutcliffe Tuesday morning.
Sutcliffe will be sworn in next month, but the next few weeks will be a transition.
“I made a deliberate point of not thinking about anything after Election Day, until Election Day, so now we are going to sit down and figure out what is next,” he says.
Over the lunch hour, Sutcliffe able to spend time with his wife Ginny, and their 11-year-old daughter Kate.
“I think it has sunk in (as a family) what has happened yesterday. It is funny to think that 24 hours ago, we didn’t know what was going to happen. Now the outcome is clearer. It will be gradual thing as we learn what our lives are going to be like going forward.”
The father of three says, “for our family, we are trying to keep this as normal as possible.”
Sutcliffe is thankful for the support he received throughout the campaign.
“I have a great family, I am really grateful for that, despite the intensity of the campaign for the last few months we have kept it pretty normal around here. We probably got pizza a couple of extra times, but otherwise our family life is normal. I was a bit busier than usual but when we are at home, we are just another family.”
His wife Ginny has been with Sutcliffe throughout the entire campaign, often joining him for press conferences and at events. She says she is “immensely proud to see that entire city got to see the kind of person Mark is and how he has always felt about our city and our community, and I am really excited about what he is going to have the opportunity to do next … and working with everybody across the city. I am really proud.”
Ginny says the campaign was a bit of a civics lesson for the family but it is now their reality.
“It has been a really fun adventure for us. We kind of went into this thinking we were going to embrace the process, learn more about our city, teach our kids about public service and then see what happens from there, and go in with as much enthusiasm and commitment as we could.”
She says, “It has worked out the way we wanted it to work out, but we decided to just have fun as a family.”
Sutcliffe is a long-time broadcaster, businessman, publisher, and entrepreneur. But he is also well known for being an avid runner. Sutcliffe says he was able to run every day during the campaign. “Every day- it is what has kept me sane and healthy.”
He says he plans to keep running every day as mayor.
Sutcliffe walks into a job while the city is facing many challenges including a troubled transit system, a public inquiry into the LRT, financial pressures, and an adorable housing crunch.
He says despite being a political rookie, he is the right man to lead the city.
“I am ready to take on all those challenges. We have been talking about them and looking at them, and I have been hearing from the people of Ottawa about the challenges we have been facing, so I know what the issues are, and we need to get started and have everyone working together to start tackling some of these issues,” he says.
“We have the future of downtown to start thinking about, we got a recession potentially coming, we have companies in Ottawa that are finding it hard to find employees, we have to bring more tourists to Ottawa, there is a shortage of family doctors, of paramedics – we have to fix public transit. There is a lot to do but I am confident, as we always have in Ottawa, if we get everybody working together, we can solve these challenges.”
The new council will be sworn in on Nov. 15.
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