The votes are in, and the winner is…

Breaking news story, published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
Nov. 13, 2006

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Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien.
Photo by DARREN BROWN for the Ottawa Business Journal

The new mayor of Ottawa is Larry O’Brien.

Mr. O’Brien, the former CEO and founder of Calian Technologies, was declared the winner of the mayoral race at 8:25 p.m. Monday night, with nearly half of all votes.

At the end of the night, the mayor-elect got a total of 141,262 votes.

The new mayor beat out Alex Munter and incumbent Bob Chiarelli despite coming into the race six months later than both his opponents.

The race was a fairly close one although much less of a nail-biter than expected, with Mr. Munter getting just a little more than 36 per cent of the vote with 108,752 votes, and Mr. Chiarelli trailing behind at approximately 15 per cent or 46,697 votes. The level of voter turnout was almost unheard of, at more than 60 per cent.

Going into the polls, Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Munter were neck-and-neck at 45 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Gord Hunter, Mr O’Brien’s campaign manager. “We ran an incredible campaign and an incredible candidate, but we never expected anything like this. Larry will make a great mayor of Ottawa.”

The new mayor walked into his campaign headquarters at Broadway’s Bar & Grill on Prince of Wales Drive and raised his arms above his head with a resounding “Yes!”

He was joined shortly after by Mr. Chiarelli, who pledged his full support to the winner of the mayoral campaign and said his opponent had run a “smart campaign.”

“I’m declaring Larry the champ,” said the incumbent to cheers from Mr. O’Brien’s supporters. “We all know he’s been a tremendous community leader and business leader and… will become the greatest mayor Ottawa has ever had.”

Mr. Chiarelli added that being mayor was a “complicated job,” and said it was important for a full consensus in council to “make (Ottawa) a G-8 world capital.”

“I want to make a plea to the public, council and the media… to come together and build consensus behind this mayor,” Mr. Chiarelli said. “(Mr. O’Brien) ran a very great campaign and (he) had a very short time to do it. I’ll do whatever he wants me to do, for transition and to help the city.”

In his acceptance speech, the mayor-elect thanked the people of Ottawa for voting for change.

“The city is not a business but (the people) want to see it run like a business,” Mr. O’Brien said.

Mr. Munter opened his congratulatory speech with a joke about how it was probably a good thing he hadn’t been elected mayor as his supporters were causing a noise violation.

“We had a lot of tiger in the tank, but unfortunately Larry O’Brien had more,” he said. “As he enters at this crucial time, it’s important he succeed, and I’m here to help him succeed.”

As Mr. O’Brien heads to City Hall, he is facing an upcoming city budget, as well as the hotly debated light rail transit issue.

The other mayoral candidates – Piotr Anweiler, Robert Larter, Barkley Pollock and Jane Scharf – took a total of 3,328 votes.

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