May 28, 2013 3:30 pm
Updated: May 28, 2013 10:24 pm

UPDATE: Councillor Sohi will not run for Edmonton mayor

City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi and his wife at an announcement at City Hall May 28, 2013

Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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EDMONTON – Edmonton City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi will not be running for mayor in Edmonton’s October 21 municipal election, but will seek re-election as Ward 12 councillor.

Sohi made the announcement Tuesday morning in front of City Hall.

“I am passionate about our city and would have been honoured to ask Edmontonians for a mandate to lead it as the mayor. But today, I am going to put my personal ambitions aside and put the interests of the city at the forefront.”

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“I am here with my wife to declare that I will not be running for mayor. Rather I am going to ask the people of Ward 12 if they can give me another opportunity to represent them and their interests at city hall for the next four years.” (Read Sohi’s full statement below).

Sohi thanked those who encouraged him to run, but says he’ll be seeing re-election as city councillor.

He said he knows his decision not to run for mayor will be difficult for some, but added he wants to continue to play a leadership role and hopes to work on a variety of files if he’s elected as councillor again.

“The great foundation that has been laid, that requires that we have some consistency, and we continue to build on that,” said Sohi on Tuesday.  “So, yes, it was a difficult decision, but it’s a decision that I will not regret.”

“I’m sad that Amarjeet decided not to run for mayor,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel, “because I think he’s an incredible individual, one with great passion, someone who will do great things for the city. But, typical Amarjeet style – he put the city ahead of his own interests and made a decision to come back to city council – I hope he’ll get re-elected, what a loss that would be – putting the city’s interests beyond his, and that’s the kind of person he is.”

Sohi said the possibility of some big changes on city council – including a new mayor and several new councillors – influenced his decision, but stressed the citizens of Edmonton will make the right choice when it comes to electing a new mayor.

“Edmontonians are very sophisticated people and they will make the right choice, regardless who is running in the race.”

May 16, Councillor Kerry Diotte threw his hat into the ring, revealing he would run for the mayor’s chair.

“I’m the only one who’s announced,” said Diotte Tuesday. “We made the decision to go out first… it was a calculated risk, but we calculated it and I think that’s an advantage. I guess people basically have the right to decide if they’re in or they’re out at their own leisure, that’s the nature of the beast.”

Reacting to Sohi’s decision Tuesday, Diotte said: “I’m certainly glad that he’s going to be back and fighting for a council seat again. He’s a good guy, I like Amarjeet. We work on some projects together.”

May 21, Mayor Stephen Mandel announced he would not seek a fourth term as mayor.

“The citizens make a decision and that is the right decision,” he said at the time. “I’m not worried about an election. The people will make a decision and whoever they choose will be the next mayor, the next council, and our city will move on, as I hope it will.”

Former city councillor and the current executive director of the Downtown Business Association Jim Taylor believes a few more councillors will throw their hats in the ring.

“I don’t think that there is any doubt that Don Iveson is going to run, he has already said he is going to run if the mayor didn’t. It is pretty much certain that Karen Leibovici is going to put her name in.”

Councillor Leibovici said Sohi’s announcement Tuesday doesn’t influence her decision-making process about running for mayor herself one way or the other.

“The decision that I’ll make with regards to running for mayor is based on the support I’m getting and what I can bring to the job.”

“Today is Amarjeet’s day,” she said. “Amarjeet is a true statesman. I think the decision that he’s made to bring and to remain on council, of course, subject to the next election, is a hard one for him to have made… he wants to ensure there’s a continuity that is maintained on council. Council will have a huge turnover and that need for continuity is very, very important to make sure that the projects that everyone has invested in in fact continue,” Leibovici added.

“He’s been a fabulous councillor and will hopefully continue to be a fabulous councillor because this council needs someone like him.”

Amarjeet Sohi’s full statement, May 28, 2013:

“Over recent months I have been strongly encouraged to consider running for Mayor in the upcoming election.  I have appreciated the sincere encouragement from people of all regions of the city and from many sectors including the business community, community leaders, the general public and friends & family.

“I appreciate that many people feel I am an advocate on social issues, a strong voice for public transit and communities, a consensus builder at Council and an advocate for building a welcoming, inclusive, and racism free Edmonton.

“I am passionate about our city and would have been honoured to ask Edmontonians for a mandate to lead it as the mayor. But today, I am going to put my personal ambitions aside and put the interests of the city at the forefront.

“I am here with my wife to declare that I will not be running for mayor. Rather I am going to ask the people of ward 12 if they can give me another opportunity to represent them and their interests at city hall for the next four years. 

“With the departure of Mayor Mandel and a few of my colleagues considering retirement and others considering a run for the mayor’s chair, the consistency of strong leadership and experience is at risk. The presence of my voice at council might be more important than ever as we continue the work of current council to build a dynamic and forward-looking city.  

“Over the past five and a half years, I have worked hard to promote the interests of people in ward 12. I have successfully advocated for LRT expansion to the South East and other improvements for public transit, construction of the Meadows Recreation Centre and Library, Mill Woods Library, Seniors’ Centre and Multicultural Centre, new fire halls, roadway improvements etc.  Meanwhile, I have played an influential role on big city initiatives such as the downtown arena and city centre airport and neighbourhood renewal program,  REACH Edmonton, Edmonton Police Commission and Racism Free Edmonton to mention just a few. But the job is not finished. 

Many have told me that they appreciate my strong leadership on key issues facing the city. I know my decision is going to disappoint many, which I regret.  However, I commit to continue working hard for the people of Edmonton to support the expansion of the LRT to the South East and to other areas of the city. I want to continue to play a leadership role in developing a long-term sustainable approach to maintain and upgrade our existing infrastructure. I want to continue to ensure the integration of transportation and land-use planning so we can continue building green, sustainable communities and bring new life to our mature neighbourhoods.  I want to make sure that the downtown arena and entertainment district moves forward, and we revitalize the downtown core without raising property taxes or diverting money away from other infrastructure projects. I want to continue to play a role in building welcoming and inclusive communities and to support strong art and culture programs. 

If I am honoured again with the support and confidence of the people of ward 12, I look forward to taking a leadership role with all of the new Council to make this city great.”

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