Young blood keeps it fresh

  • In The News
Ottawa Sun

Written by Jon Willing in the Ottawa Sun

Four council young guns are mindful of not blasting into City Hall in a blaze of glory.

Although they’re eager to get the keys for their new offices Wednesday, the under-40 group of councillors acknowledge the veteran leadership around the council table. Mathieu Fleury, who will represent Rideau-Vanier ward, will be the youngest councillor at 25 years old.

He knows experience speaks volumes at City Hall.

“We have to respect that,” Fleury said Tuesday. “I do have a lot to learn … I’m not hiding that.”

At the same time, Fleury says they can breathe new life into a council with members who have been holding their seats for several terms.

An outsider’s perception that some councillors might be too young “is just an annoyance,” Fleury said, and he hopes the young blood can bring a fresh perspective on major issues.

At 29 years old, Scott Moffatt will take the reins of Rideau-Goulbourn ward. He says a dash of youth around the table will help council represent a larger demographic.

“Some of the people can identify better with us,” Moffatt said, and he predicted that the under-40s will work together on particular pieces of city business.

Moffatt, for one, has made sure some experienced colleagues understand Internet applications like Twitter aren’t “some far off land,” but instead can help connect with constituents.

Stephen Blais, the 30-year-old who will represent Cumberland ward, wants to bring more online services to residents.

Embrace technology

“I personally think there’s a lot of money to be saved by embracing certain technologies,” Blais said.

Tim Tierney, who will represent Beacon Hill-Cyrville, pointed out it was partly the Internet, and more specifically social media, that helped the four councillors win their seats.

Tierney, 36, said fresh political outlooks won’t be the only things the under-40s will bring to the table this term.

“I think we’re going to bring a new fashion sense to City Hall,” Tierney, wearing a blue dress shirt and pinstriped suit, said chuckling.

Incoming Bay ward councillor Mark Taylor just missed being part of the 2010 class of under-40s. His 40th birthday was two weeks ago.

Peter Clark, who will represent Rideau-Rockcliffe ward, will be the oldest councillor taking the oath of office Wednesday night.

The veteran politician sees no issues with having young blood around City Hall.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a big problem,” Clark said. “It’s not like they’re insane.”