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Ward Sutherland leaving Calgary city council race, joins Jeff Davison’s mayoral campaign

Coun. Ward Sutherland, L, is joining Jeff Davison's mayoral campaign as senior advisor. Sutherland, pictured on July 13, 20201, made the announcement with Davison outside the grounds of the Calgary Stampede. Adam Toy / Global News

Another incumbent Calgary city councillor has dropped out of the race for this fall’s municipal election.

But instead of riding off into the sunset, Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland will be joining Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison’s mayoral campaign.

“This is a historic time for the city of Calgary,” Sutherland said, clad in western wear. “We are going to have over 10 new councilors and right now people have asked about change — change has already happened.”

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Sutherland said the city’s need for a strong leader helped him decide to become a senior advisor on Davison’s campaign.

“I can say as a councilor — and we normally don’t say this publicly — I have worked with all the candidates that are running and I am confident and it was an easy decision for me to support Jeff,” the lone Métis on city council said.

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“He has an excellent business background. He actually collaborates and gets things done and over the line. And I can’t say that about the other councilors.”

Originally voted into office in 2013 on a narrow 87-vote margin, Sutherland made the announcement just outside the Calgary Stampede grounds Tuesday, mid-way through the 10-day western-themed event.

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Sutherland is one of three council representatives on the Stampede board. He’s also chair of the city’s utilities and corporate services committee, and the business advisory committee. He also sits on the planning and urban development, Green Line and priorities and finance committees. The former Calgary police commissioner also has been one of two Calgary city council representatives with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

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The potential for candidates without experience being elected to council is something Sutherland said he’s concerned about, as being a councillor “is a very complicated job.”

“Even if you have a great business background, you’re very intelligent, it will take you a year to process and figure out how things go (on council). For a mayor, that’s a year and a half,” Sutherland said. “We can’t wait that long. We need to start running from Day 1 with the right person that knows what’s going on, because this is our future and our economy.”

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Davison said he admired how Sutherland represented Ward 1 for eight years “with integrity, with respect, with collaboration.”

“That is exactly why he’s stepping down today: to help me do exactly all of those things across an entire city,” the mayoral hopeful said.

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“Having folks step down to get behind this campaign has just been an absolute blessing, because I think it’s going to take all of us to pull together to really reinvent the Calgary story and figure out where we go from here.”

Davison pointed to the $4 billion in private investment that went into Ward 1 under Sutherland’s tenure.

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“That’s exactly what we need to do to accelerate our city forward,” Davison said. “We need to think about exactly how we build those community spaces, exactly how we draw investment to our city.

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“And I think that’s exactly what he’s going to encourage me to do in this campaign.”

But both men were mum on a role for Sutherland in Davison’s administration if the Ward 6 councillor was elected in October.

“We’ll talk about that when we win. It’s about the future right now,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland originally announced he would seek a third term in Ward 1 on Feb. 27.

With this announcement, he becomes the ninth ward representative not to seek re-election in October.

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Last week, Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal announced he would be running to represent the Liberal party in Calgary Skyview in the yet-to-be-announced federal election.

New faces will represent Wards 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 after Calgarians vote on Oct. 18.

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With Mayor Naheed Nenshi announcing his retirement from municipal politics in April, that leaves at least 10 seats of the 15-seat council without incumbents in this election — the highest turnover of city council since its expansion to 14 wards in 1977.

Only Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca has yet to announce his intentions for this fall. Magliocca did not respond to comment from Global News at press time.

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There are 20 candidates running for mayor, including Davison. As of Tuesday, candidates registered with Elections Calgary include:

  • Ian Chiang
  • David “oZone” Clark
  • Jan Damery
  • Jeff Davison
  • Jeromy Farkas
  • Brad Field
  • Emile Gabriel
  • Jyoti Gondek
  • Paul Hallelujah
  • Zac Hartley
  • Larry Heather
  • Dean Hopkins
  • Kevin J. Johnston
  • Zane Novak
  • Teddy Ogbonna
  • Grant Prior
  • Mizanur Rahman
  • Sunny Singh
  • Shaoli Wang
  • Grace Yan

According to Elections Calgary, Jacob McGregor and Gaz Qamar remain as candidates for Ward 1.

–with files from Adam MacVicar, Global News

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