Well-known Ottawa broadcaster, journalist, author and entrepreneur Mark Sutcliffe was a big winner in the race for mayor in the Oct. 24 Ottawa municipal election. The win was seen by many as a win for Ottawa’s rural communities.
“He fully understands the issues that we are facing in rural communities,” said newly-elected Rideau-Jock Councillor David Brown. “He is fully aware of the challenges facing Manotick, Richmond and North Gower, and he also understands the challenges of rural Ottawa as a whole.”
Sutcliffe worked hard to become one of the most prominent leaders in the Ottawa journalism and broadcasting community over the past quarter century. From humble beginnings as a broadcaster with Carleton University’s CKCU and Rogers Cable 22 to freelance reporting and then to CHEZ 106, Sutcliffe founded the Ottawa Business Journal in 1995. He has gone on to write for the Ottawa Citizen, host radio programs on CFRA and 1310 News, host TV programs on CPAC, and he was even the play-by-play voice of the Ottawa Lynx baseball team.
During the early years of his journalism career, he also wrote occasional articles for the Manotick Messenger.
While Sutcliffe’s campaign focused on the big ticket issues in Ottawa such as transportation, policing and responsible spending, he did not ignore the rural communities. Early in the campaign he met with Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari to discuss local issues and to establish a local relationship. He also visited the Richmond Fair with Brown and became familiar with the challenges in the Rideau-Jock Ward. Of all the mayoral candidates, Sutcliffe was most visible in the Rideau-Jock and Osgoode wards, with the possible exception of local mayoral candidate Mike Maguire.
Sutcliffe said he respects the priorities of Ottawa’s rural villages. During one of the debates leading up to the election, mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney, who was Sutcliffe’s main opponent, claimed that “rural villages have a lot in common with downtown Ottawa.”
After the debate, Sutcliffe said he was committed to be a leader who was focused on the concerns of rural residents, rather than be a mayor who would bring a one-size-fits-all approach to City Hall; an approach that has left rural residents feeling like they’ve been overlooked by downtown councillors.
“People in rural Ottawa are not asking for hundreds of millions of dollars on bike lanes they’ll never see,” he said in a story posted on his website. “Rural Ottawa residents want a Mayor who understands that agriculture goes beyond the Greenbelt, and is a significant part of our economy. They want a Mayor who understands roads in rural Ottawa are crumbling – and who will invest in making them better. They want a Mayor who understands how difficult it has become to find a family doctor, and who will develop a plan to bring more of them to Ottawa. They want a Mayor who will keep taxes low, so that they can continue to afford living in Ottawa if they are on a fixed income.”