Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt surprised many when he announced earlier this week that he would not seek re-election next year.
But for those closest to him, the decision came as no surprise.
The three-year-old councilor, who lives in North Gower with his wife Jill, a nurse at CHEO, and their five children, is chairman of the city’s environment committee and co-chair of the planning committee.
During his 11 years on the council, Moffatt has not always taken the easy path, and sometimes he has taken positions that put him at odds with his constituents. But since his first successful campaign in 2010, he has won re-election twice. So why stop now? And what’s next?
Earlier this week, CBC Ottawa sat down with Moffatt at his North Gower office to talk about what he’s learned from his time in office, why family should always come first, and why easy decisions are not always the right ones.
It’s a call
Moffatt says he was fascinated by local politics from a very young age. Seriously.
“I grew up watching these guys,” he said, pointing to a framed portrait of the former Rideau Township Council taken in 1981, the year of his birth. “I’ve always had this strange interest.”
He took his first stab at a seat on Ottawa City Council in 2006 and lost to Rideau Township’s former mayor, Glenn Brooks. Four years later, he was back and got Brooks and three other candidates with more than half the votes.
There is no doubt about the way I do my job, I create resistance.– grev. Scott Moffatt
“I have often said since then that the best thing that happened to me politically was to lose it  choice because I learned what I was doing wrong, “Moffatt said.
“I think if I had won, I might have taken the job for granted. I would not have deserved it if I had won in 2006, as I should have earned it in 2010.”
Stick to your weapons
From the outset, Moffatt has found himself at odds with many of his constituents over some of the most contentious issues facing the predominantly rural department.
“There is no doubt: the way I do my job, I create resistance. I can be very blunt and direct towards individuals. I sometimes take positions that may not seem the most popular, but in my opinion are in the best interest of society., “he said.
In 2011, it was waste collection every other week. Moffatt supported the plan to save money and encourage recycling by reducing waste services and even enlisted his young family to prove it could be done.
In subsequent terms, Moffatt supported an unpopular rainwater fee for rural residents because he justified that the new tax structure would benefit them in the long run. Recently, he supported a controversial plan for a massive warehouse on Roger Stevens Drive.
“I think what we did with the zoning of that property is definitely in the best interest of the community in the long run. There are members of the community who do not believe in it, but I do,” Moffatt said.
“The easy decision? Be against it. Let it go through the council because everyone else will vote for it and I am against it. Then it seems I stand with the community. I have never done that. I have always felt it. I have to be honest with people. “
While he may have an ability to get back into his own congregation, Moffatt has largely managed to soar above the personal enmity that has come to plague Ottawa City Council – at least in the eyes of the public.
“When a few of us look like we’re fighting, the public just sees us all fighting. The public does not discriminate,” Moffatt said. “It’s going to be a question of ‘all of us.’
He agrees that the gap has widened recently, especially between a predictable bloc of city council members and the rest, usually led by the mayor.
“In my first period, there was a stronger willingness to collaborate and work together,” he said. “I know a member of the council at the moment, their whole goal is not seen to be in line with the mayor.”
Moffatt said his own approach as chairman of the Environment Committee has been more cooperative than combative.
“I think I have a track record of helping councilors get things done in a collaborative approach that then comes through the council, usually with overwhelming majority support. The official plan was just adopted 21-2. It was not a 15 -8 votes. ” he said.
“I do not have the opportunity to be an opposition councilor. We sit in government, each one of us, and we each have a role.”
Puts the family first
As most politicians discover, it may be their name on the ballot, but their family is on the trip, whether they want to or not.
Moffatt recalled a trip to the grocery store early in his first term, at the height of the debate over rainwater charges.
“I do not think I saw my family for two hours. Time and time again, people stopped to talk to me. And you can not just say, ‘I’m out of the clock.’ I mean, I could, but you’ll get enough. never that person back. They will always remember that I brushed them off. “
As he grew into the job, Moffatt gradually learned to devote more time to his family. A big part of that, he said, was leaving Facebook in 2019.
“I just answered the same questions over and over to the same people and it took two hours and I just wanted to be completely unaware of the people around me at home. So I tried to fix it,” he said. (Moffatt remains active on Twitter, producing his own podcast called Twenty-one, Rideau-Gloubourn’s department number.)
He said he has to do something right because his kids want him to run again.
“I think they think I’m good at the job.”
Time to move on
But the decision has been made. There will be no fourth period.
“I think three periods is a good amount of time to get the job done, to have the experience to do what you have to do to be effective,” he said.
Moffatt said he decided early on that 12 years in office would be enough.
The council was fine before me, the council will be fine after me.– grev. Scott Moffatt
“I think after a while, I think the congregation can use a new set of eyes on questions. I think the council needs a change,” he said.
“I know that if I stayed, I have something I can contribute. I can give value, but other people can also give value. The council was fine before me, the council will be fine after me.”
He does not say exactly what he would like to do next, but insists there is no job waiting for him.
“I know what I want to do, but until the time I secure it, there is no need to talk about it,” Moffatt said. “The only thing I want to say is that I really like the municipal government.”