By Emma Perreault
Jeff Leiper has claimed his third consecutive victory in Kitchissippi ward, clinching a solid and comfortable victory over his two opponents Oonagh Fitzgerald and Dan Stringer.
Each candidate had similar platforms, with main issues being affordable housing and sustainability, as well as transit accessibility.
Leiper was the projected winner of the riding about an hour after the polls closed. He and his team of staff, volunteers, and supporters gathered at the Carleton Tavern to watch the results and celebrate a successful campaign.
First elected in 2014, Leiper took 72 per cent of the vote with 11,055 ballots cast under his name. Oonagh Fitzgerald came in second place with 21 per cent (3,247 votes) and Dan Stringer in third with seven per cent (1,058 votes).
Dan Montag, who has been volunteering for Leiper since 2018, worked hand in hand with the councillor as he knocked on doors throughout the riding. He credits the success of Leiper’s campaign to this and acknowledges it as a game-changer in an election such as this one.
“He’s knocking on doors, and he’s talking to the people,” Montag said.
Pat O’Brien, who managed Leiper’s campaign, has worked with the Kitchissippi councillor since 2007. With the comfort of being an incumbent and his dedication shown to the community, O’Brien wasn’t nervous about the outcome.
“We know he was so warmly received at the doors, his communications are phenomenal, and so we’d always had a positive, comfortable feeling that he’d win.”
Supporters of all ages gathered at the Tavern to celebrate and socialize, as results came through live onto the various television screens. Although merry throughout the evening, there was a somber tone during Catherine McKenney’s concession speech, as they wished the mayoral race winner Mark Sutcliffe success.
Leiper, a close friend to McKenney – and a supporter of their mayoral campaign – was visibly emotional as he watched the screen.
Going into his third term, Leiper has an organized agenda of items he wants to tackle on behalf of his constituents, starting with affordable housing.
“I am certain that that is going to be a priority that virtually every candidate in this election brings to the horseshoe,” Leiper told the Kitchissippi Times after his victory.
Beyond that, he wants to focus on transit affordability and the intensification of the city of Ottawa, ensuring that green areas and recreation amenities are preserved.
Leiper will work with many new faces this term as 11 wards are set to see new representation around the council table. With this comes new opportunities and potential disagreements, said Leiper, who is excited for the challenges it will bring.
“My commitment is to bring my experience to the table and to be a leader in making sure that council works more productively together,” he said.
“We’re going to have disagreements, and there’s a broad swath of the political spectrum,” shared Leiper, who acknowledges that with that comes different priorities and goals.
“If there’s no clear direction, this council is going to take some work to get everyone together to come up with a unified agenda that we can productively work on,” he added.
After results were finalized, Leiper finally got the chance to say a few words to his dedicated staff and volunteers, thanking them profusely for all their hard work. And while it seemed like a comfortable win, Leiper pointed out that there is always uncertainty when it comes to politics.
“Everything that we were hearing at the doors was extremely positive, and we were very, very confident. But you never know what you don’t know,” he laughed.