Coun. Rawlson King fast-tracking through council school as he begins representing Rideau-Rockcliffe

Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King hardly has time to get settled in at city hall.

Freshly elected to city council, King only has days to learn about municipal governance, where new councillors usually have weeks before a new term begins. He’ll also need to decide on which committees he would like to sit, though ultimately the committee membership is up to council. He’ll also need to hire staff for his office.

“I feel ecstatic but exhausted,” King said Tuesday during a reception in Mayor Jim Watson’s office, just hours after being officially declared the winner of the Rideau-Rockcliffe ward byelection.

It didn’t take long after the 8 p.m. close of polls Monday for King to be declared the unofficial winner. City clerk Rick O’Connor made the results official by late morning Tuesday and walked King through the declaration of office shortly later. The Rideau-Rockcliffe office at city hall was quickly changed over and King’s name was put on a sign above the door. At 2:30 p.m., King was in the mayor’s boardroom meeting councillors and senior staff.

It was a historic moment when King signed his declaration. He is the City of Ottawa’s first black city councillor.

“It’s been a long evolutionary process and I think over the last decade we’ve seen an improvement in terms of performance of black candidates,” King said. “I think it’s a necessity to have diversity around the council table. I was excited by the win. I know a lot of people were excited by the win.”

King told a story about door-knocking in the new Wateridge Village community during the last weekend of the campaign and meeting a black family. The mother said her very young son told her he would vote for King.

“I thought that says it all,” King said, underscoring the under-representation happening in politics, but acknowledging feeling pressure now that he’s elected.

“It’s hard not just to represent your constituents, but also a community who’s going to put some hope and faith in you,” he said.

King said residents have expressed concerns about the decline of public services, touching on issues like road conditions, transit and affordable housing, and he vowed to give them a voice at city hall.

King, a community volunteer and former president of the Overbrook Community Association, received support on the campaign from urban councillors Catherine McKenney, Jeff Leiper and Shawn Menard. Former councillor and mayoral candidate Clive Doucet was also pulling for him.

It might have been the difference-maker in the byelection, with King winning by 123 votes in a 17-candidate race.

King said he sees himself voting the same way as McKenney, Leiper and Menard on many issues since they share the same political philosophy.

“We are simpatico on many issues, so I do see them as allies, but the reality is, I’m an independent. I’m not a member of a party,” King said. “I’m going to use common sense and judgment based on the decisions that need to be made in the interests of the ward.”

Watson noted that King represents one of the economically diverse wards in Ottawa.

“We’re going to be relying on you to be a strong voice for those who have been marginalized for many years in different neighbourhoods, not just in your ward but throughout the City of Ottawa,” Watson told King at the reception.

The January resignation of Tobi Nussbaum, only months after the October municipal election, triggered the byelection. Nussbaum took the chief executive job at the National Capital Commission.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

***

Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.