Former Ottawa mayor Jim Watson has officially signed the paperwork needed to join the race for mayor, calling Ottawa City Hall a place of chaos and confusion.

He criticized Mayor Larry O'Brien's promise not to raise taxes in the last municipal election campaign, saying that a zero per cent tax increase is not realistic.

"Obviously, I'm not going to promise a ‘zero means zero,' that was tried and obviously was not successful over the last four years," Watson told reporters on Monday.

"Like everyone, I don't want to see taxes go up at incredible rates, but at the same time I think the public understands that gas prices, and heating prices and so on, and the cost of doing business does go up, but it takes good leaders to make sure that the costs are contained so that the rates are not exorbitant."

Watson filed his papers at a city office in Orleans Monday morning. He joins six others already registered to fight for the city's top job, including Coun. Alex Cullen. Mayor Larry O'Brien has not indicated whether he will seek a second term in office.

Watson resigned from his post as MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean before registering for the municipal campaign on Monday. He stepped down from his provincial cabinet post and announced his intentions to run for mayor last month.

Prior to amalgamation, Watson served as Ottawa mayor from 1997-2000, winning 83 per cent of the vote. He also sat on city council from 1991-1997. He joined provincial politics in 2003.

Former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli has been nominated to run for the provincial Liberals in Watson's old riding. The premier has not yet set a date for the byelection.