Diane Deans announced Thursday that she will not run for mayor in the fall municipal election, despite previously stating she wanted the corner office in Ottawa City Hall.
The longtime councilor also said she would not run for reelection in the Gloucester-Southgate borough, ending her political career in Ottawa’s municipal government.
“For both personal and professional reasons, I have decided that I will not be on the ballot in the mayoral race this fall,” Deans said in a written statement.
Deans said she believed the next mayor needed two terms to adequately address the city’s most pressing issues and she couldn’t make that promise right now.
“After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the next mayor will have to commit to the job for eight years (two terms). Four years won’t be enough to get this city on a better track,” said Deans. “Unfortunately, I don’t feel I can make such a long commitment to the people of Ottawa.”
After Mayor Jim Watson announced in December that he would not run for re-election, Deans was one of two councilors who quickly expressed an interest in succeeding him.
The other councilor is Catherine McKenney of the Somerset Ward, who has run for mayor and launched a campaign.
The nomination period for the municipal elections has been open since the beginning of May. Candidates cannot fundraise or spend money on their campaigns until they have registered to participate in the election.
Deans’ career in Ottawa City Council spans nearly 28 years. She was first elected in 1994 in the pre-merger Ottawa City Council and has represented the south side of Gloucester-Southgate since the 2001 amalgamation.
In recent years, Deans has established himself as a vocal critic of Watson’s government, especially regarding the future of LRT and Lansdowne Park.
The current term has been politically explosive for Deans as she protested the secrecy surrounding the Phase 2 O-Train procurement process in early 2019.
Initially, she was tasked with chairing the Board of Police Services as the Ottawa Police Department faced greater public scrutiny over its budget and policies. Then the “Freedom Convoy” took over the downtown streets in early 2022, and the police response came into the national spotlight. Peter Sloly resigned as police chief and the council removed Deans as chairman of the board of police.
Deans have also had to deal with personal challenges in recent years.
In September 2019, she announced that she was stepping off the board to receive treatment for ovarian cancer. In September 2020, she returned to City Hall.
On Thursday, Deans said the city was at a “crossroads.”
“Ottawa residents need their counsel to come together and put the needs of the community first,” Deans said. “The next mayor must bridge all of Ottawa’s unique communities — rural, suburban and urban — and strike a balance that can end the divisions we see today.”
Deans is one of the few pre-merger council members still on the council. Watson served as councilor and mayor before the amalgamation, returning to City Hall as mayor in 2010. Barrhaven County. Jan Harder is not looking for reelection either. College Count. Rick Chiarelli has said he expects to seek reelection.
On Thursday afternoon, there were seven mayoral candidates, including former mayor of Ottawa and MPP Bob Chiarelli.
Candidates for mayor, councilor and school administrator have until August 19 to submit election papers or drop out of the race.
The municipal elections are on October 24.