Former public school board trustee Cathy Curry is the new city councillor for Kanata North.
In a rarely used process, council chose Curry as the new representative for the west-end ward with more than half of the votes in the first round —12 of the 23 council members selected her, including Mayor Jim Watson. Former councillor Marianne Wilkinson came second with eight votes.
The seat was left vacant by Jenna Sudds, now the Liberal MP for Kanata-Carleton.
A special meeting of city council on Wednesday acted as a very public job interview process for 20 applicants, as each appeared in a video call streamed on YouTube. Each gave a five-minute pitch, and took questions from councillors.
Many suggested the ongoing fight over ClubLink's plan to redevelop its Kanata Golf and Country Club was the biggest issue in the ward. Others also pointed to the importance of Kanata's changing high-tech park.
Curry instead pointed to many planning files that will require decisions within a matter of weeks. She had read up on those development applications and driven past many of the locations, she said. Curry also indicated she had spoken with community associations, MP Sudds, MPP Merrilee Fullerton and city staff.
"Important traits that I have are that I'm a quick study, and I'm consultative. I think in terms of systems and move from the micro to the macro naturally and well," said Curry, as she presented herself for the job.
Curry, a former trustee with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and member of many boards of directors locally, will represent constituents for less than a year before a general municipal election takes place in October 2022.
Curry undecided if she'll run in 2022 election
Last month, the majority of council decided Kanata North's next councillor should be appointed, rather than elected. They felt a byelection held in January would come too late because big files — such as the 2022 budget — would be completed before Sudds's successor took over the seat.
A byelection would also have cost more than $550,000 due to COVID-19 restrictions, whereas the City of Ottawa spent just $7,278 on newspaper ads seeking applicants.
Coun. Diane Deans asked almost every applicant if they would commit to not running next October in the 2022 municipal election. She and several council members did not want see an appointee given the advantage of name recognition, even though laws cannot compel a candidate to keep such a promise.
A few said unequivocally they would hold the post for only the remainder of the term, including former councillor Wilkinson, lawyer Stewart Walter Cattroll who co-owns Freshii fast food locations, Transport Canada engineer Matthew Lee and University of Ottawa professor Michael Kempa.
Curry, too, anticipated the question.
"Right this moment, I had no intention of running. I've had tons of people try to convince me that's not the right thinking. I would have to see how this goes. I could be convinced either way."
Mayor Jim Watson, who supported Curry, said he did so because he found her presentation convincing, he'd seen her leadership at the school board, and because she answered honestly.
"People who close that door too soon probably would be regretting it and kicking themselves. At the end of the day, it's a relatively unique position to be in."
Curry was to be sworn in privately after the meeting, and will take the office in a ceremony in the mayor's office on Friday.