Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson has announced he will not seek re-election next year.
Iveson made the announcement in a statement Monday morning, saying he had only ever hoped to serve two terms as mayor. He said the decision came after “lots of reflection.”
“It is an incredible honour, and a humbling duty, to serve as your mayor and I am thankful for every day I get to serve our community,” Iveson said.
“With a year remaining, I want to make clear that my singular daily focus is working tirelessly to protect and help Edmontonians impacted by COVID-19 and the economic challenges we face.”
Iveson said there is still considerable work to do with the rest of council’s current term, including:
- Delivering a very tough budget with a goal of no tax increase
- Supporting and attracting new jobs and investment for our region
- Making the most of the economic opportunities that come with an urgent transition to a low-carbon future
- Tackling systemic racism in our institutions while enhancing community safety and police accountability
- Delivering more housing and ending chronic homelessness
- Further strengthening metropolitan collaboration with neighbouring municipalities
Iveson admitted not everything will be resolved ahead of next fall’s election.
“Part of the beauty of cities is that they are perpetually unfinished. This complex, ever-evolving work demands thoughtful, compassionate and constructive civic leadership – which is why next fall’s election will be pivotal, and why I feel it’s important to give people who may be considering a run time and notice to make their plans,” Iveson said.
“I will always be grateful to my wife, Sarah, for her encouragement, to my parents and my in-laws for their support, and to my children for their understanding as they’ve had to share their dad with a very demanding public role. Alongside Sarah’s generous leadership and social advocacy in the community, our work has always been about building a better city for the next generation, so that more of our kids and grandkids might choose to stay here and be proud of their hometown.
“There will be a lot of time to reflect in the year ahead, but I want to take this moment to say that it has been the honour and privilege of my life to serve the people of this wonderful and resilient city. Now let’s get back to work.”
In a statement, Ward 9 Councillor Tim Cartmell thanked Iveson for his service to the city.
“I am sure this was not an easy decision for him and his family,” Cartmell said.
“City council has a lot of work to do before the next election. I share mayor Iveson’s love for Edmonton and his desire to see Edmonton continue growing and reach its full potential. I am personally grateful for the opportunity to serve with and learn from mayor Iveson, and I remain committed to serving the residents of Ward 9 now and in the future.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday morning that news of Iveson’s announcement made him a bit sad.
“I just want to take this opportunity to thank him for his friendship to the city of Calgary, for the great work that we’ve done together, for his leadership as the chair of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus and the work he’s done, particularly this year but for many years in terms of our national advocacy, which has made an extraordinary difference.”
Iveson first ran for city council in 2007, when he was elected to serve Ward 10. He has served six years (two terms) on council before being elected mayor in 2013, taking over from former Mayor Stephen Mandel.
Iveson was re-elected to a second term as mayor in 2017.
What’s next for Iveson?
While the mayor said people may speculate about a run at other levels of government, Iveson stressed he has not made any decisions about what’s next for him.
“I have no specific plans to run for anything,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to some time to reflect about whatever I might get to do next. But I haven’t made any decisions at all in that regard.”
Who will fill his shoes?
At least one person has officially thrown their hat into the mayor’s race already.
Businesswoman Cheryll Watson announced her intention to run for Edmonton mayor in October.
Born and raised in Edmonton, Watson has 20 years of experience in strategic business transformation, tech innovation and small business enablement in both the public and private sectors.
She currently serves as the co-chair of the Startup Genome Global Senior Policy Maker forum, and has served on the boards of the Zebra Child Protection Centre and the Edmonton Arts Council.
Watson and her husband, Geoff, have four adult children.
Ward 1 City Councillor Andrew Knack said he is “still considering it,” but didn’t officially announce an intention Monday.
Knack has been the councillor in Ward 1 since 2013.
When it comes to who may fill his shoes, Iveson said there are some “thoughtful people out there on council who are running again, thoughtful people who are talking about running for council, some of whom I’m providing a little bit of mentorship to because I think they’re be superb, and I’m not going to name names today.”
From the next mayor, Iveson said a “constructive and collaborative mayor who can work well with other people would be ideal.”
“I’ll get the same vote as everybody else.”
Information session for aspiring candidates
Edmonton Elections is hosting its first virtual information session Tuesday for anyone interested in running in the 2021 election.
The session will provide aspiring council and mayoral candidates with information about the election process, how to register, upcoming deadlines and changes to rules and regulations.
The session will include a presentation from city clerk and returning officer Aileen Giesbrecht followed by a question and answer period.
The event will be live on YouTube at noon Tuesday.
Edmonton’s next municipal election will be held on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.