Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark has ended months of speculation about his future.
Clark announced Wednesday he is seeking re-election in this fall’s Saskatoon municipal election.
“I am running again because I know that with the right approach, we can build on the strengths that we have seen shine through during this pandemic crisis — like collaboration, caring and problem-solving — and come out even stronger on the other side,” Clark said in a statement.
“I also know that with the wrong approach we could see the same failures and challenges that are playing out in other parts of the world. I am prepared to fight to make sure that doesn’t happen here.”
Clark was first elected to Saskatoon city council in 2006 to represent Ward 6.
He was elected mayor in 2016 after defeating Saskatoon’s longest-serving mayor, Don Atchison, in a close race. Clark garnered 41 per cent of the vote to Atchison’s 37 per cent.
Clark said when he first ran for mayor, he wanted to improve neighbourhoods, improve the quality of life for citizens and build a strong downtown for the future.
“I wanted to make sure that the city we built, left no one behind, that everyone could see a place for themselves here and in the opportunities being created,” he said.
“Politics in these turbulent times is not for the faint of heart. I am running for re-election as mayor because I know what is needed to guide our city through the challenges ahead.”
While Clark announced his intention to run again, he told reporters he won’t formally begin campaigning until September in order to guide Saskatoon through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The only other candidate currently running for mayor is former Saskatchewan Party MLA and cabinet minister Rob Norris.
At a media event of his own Wednesday, Norris attacked Clark’s record on affordability, job creation, immigration and public safety.
“What I see increasingly is Charlie Clark is acting like an analyst. He needs to be a decision-maker,” Norris said.
He also said it’s “a bit peculiar” to see Clark announce his mayoral intentions, while “stepping back” from his campaign to continue his duties as an elected official.
Greg Poelzer, a University of Saskatchewan political scientist, said voters are less likely to care about contentious council issues in this race. Instead, he said Clark could benefit from being a leader during a pandemic.
“There’s been a degree of calm and stable leadership through the COVID crisis, and we’ve seen that phenomenon right across the country,” Poelzer said.
“People are just craving stability, normalcy and so on.”
Poelzer said Norris, Clark’s lone declared opponent, has been campaigning on “red meat, conservative” issues like law and order, which the professor considers a surprise.
“People always knew Rob Norris as a kind of federal liberal within the Sask. Party,” Poelzer said.
Norris is also holding a media availability at a home in Stonebridge at 1:45 p.m.
The race would change significantly if speculation becomes reality and Atchison enters the race. Poelzer considers the possibility a game-changer.
“I think the Atch dynamic makes him look like the centrist candidate,” he said.
Entrepreneur Mark Zielke has said he will launch his mayoral campaign at the end of summer.
Saskatoon heads to the polls on Nov. 9, 2020.