A former Alberta cabinet minister announced his intention to jump back in the political arena on Monday, tweeting his plan to run for mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Don Scott is a former Progressive Conservative MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin who also served as the province’s Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education until he lost his seat in the legislature when the NDP won the election in May 2015.
Scott launched his campaign with a press conference at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch in the Waterways neighbourhood of Fort McMurray, one of the communities hit hardest by last year’s wildfires in the area.
“I have noted a decrease in the residents’ level of confidence in this region as pertains to their representation by elected officials and various levels of government,” Scott said in a statement. “As mayor, I will seek to restore trust and confidence in municipal government and administration, as well as trust and confidence in the direction and future of this region.”
Melissa Blake, the current mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, faced significant challenges in the past year in dealing with one of the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. In August, she announced she did not plan to run for re-election after nearly two decades in local politics.
“I’d love to tell you I’m undecided but I’m not,” she told reporters in August. “It has nothing to do with what the circumstances have been. It has been an honour and privilege to serve this region, especially during this difficult time. The harder things are, the prouder I am of this region that I represent… but it’s highly unlikely you’ll see my name on the next ballot.”
The community is still rebuilding after the fires destroyed over 2,400 homes and other buildings. Located in the heart of Alberta’s oilsands, the community has also been hard-hit by the collapse in oil prices in 2014. Earlier this year, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo announced it was eliminating 168 positions as a result of the poor Alberta economy and the impact of last spring’s Fort McMurray wildfire.
In 2013, while Scott was MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin, his community was struck with disaster as well as flooding forced the evacuation of several communities.
Wood Buffalo residents head to the polls on Oct. 16, 2017.