Amarjeet Sohi is projected to be Edmonton’s next mayor. He is making history as the first person of colour to be elected as Edmonton’s mayor.
“I hope with my win, and the community’s win, that we can inspire other people to run for office and also make structural changes.”
Sohi said every public institution should reflect the community it serves and changes need to be made so that minorities, women and people from different backgrounds aren’t prevented from running and serving.
Sohi is a familiar face, having previously served Edmonton both municipally and federally.
Sohi represented southeast Edmonton on city council for eight years after being elected in 2007.
In 2015, he made the move into federal politics as the MP for Edmonton Mill Woods. Sohi served as minister of Infrastructure and Communities from 2015 to 2018 and Minister of Natural Resources from 2018 to 2019. He served one term before losing his seat during the 2019 federal election.
With 94 per cent of polls reporting, Sohi had won 45 per cent of the vote. The candidate with the second-highest votes was Mike Nickel, with 25 per cent, then Kim Krushell, with 17 per cent.
Sohi immigrated to Edmonton from India with his family in 1981. He attended Bonnie Doon High School and later worked as a bus driver in the city.
“I came to this city as a young man. I had nothing, and yet, I had everything,” he said, speaking about the support of his family.
“I had ambitions and dreams to build a new life in a new home, dreams that sometimes seemed impossible.
“Today, because of you, because of everyone in this room, we have made the impossible possible.”
In his acceptance speech Monday night, Sohi addressed Edmontonians.
“Thank you for electing me your mayor.”
He also spoke to Edmontonians who may not have voted for him.
“I might not have been your first choice, but that’s OK. We are all Edmontonians. I want to assure you I will be there for all of us.”
Sohi added that, as cities recover from the impacts of COVID-19, “we need to be there for each other.”
“We want the provincial government to be there for us too.”
Sohi stressed the importance of provincial support and partnership when it comes to issues like responding to the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, addresses houselessness and fighting the opioid crisis.
“We need our provincial government to be our partner.”
He said he understands the last few years have been tough for many Edmontonians, dealing with economic challenges, social issues and discrimination.
“I see you and I hear you… I’m honoured with the privilege to lead you to a brighter future with better days ahead.”
The mayor-elect promised to “build an Edmonton for all of us.”
“Every single day, I will show up and work hard for you,” Sohi said.
“As a bus driver, councillor and federal minister, I helped move so many people through this city. But tonight, I’m the one who’s moved by this city.”
On Monday afternoon, prior to polls closing, he said he hopes Edmontonians embrace his vision of an “Edmonton for everyone.”
“Where we can grow our businesses, have a well-paying middle-class job, where we can protect our environment and leave a better legacy for future generations; where there’s no racism and discrimination in our city, where we continue to provide quality public services at the affordable, low property taxes.”
“If I’m given the honour to lead our city, I will, as I’ve done in the past, work hard to implement that vision.”
Sohi admitted polarization has been a huge issue recently.
“We have seen the racism and discrimination. Yes, we have seen division being promoted and anger being fostered. That is why it is important that Edmontonians elect someone who can bring them together. Someone who has the skillset, ability, experience and the collaborative skills to pull us together.”
This is the first time in eight years that Edmonton has a new mayor.
Don Iveson announced last November that he would not seek a third term.
Outgoing mayor Don Iveson issued a statement Monday night, congratulating Sohi on his election as Edmonton’s 36th mayor.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mayor-elect Sohi during his time as city councillor and have always appreciated and been inspired by how hard he has worked for our community.
“I have no doubt Edmonton will thrive under his leadership,” Iveson said.
Iveson will transfer the role to Sohi at a ceremony at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
In his speech, Nickel said the municipal election was about “a vote for the status quo or a vote for change.”
“You’re in for some tough times ahead,” he said.
“We fought the good fight. To all the volunteers and donors, let’s be clear: this has not been a waste. You have given voice to thousands upon thousands of Edmontonians who wanted real change in this city.”
Still, Nickel said Edmonton is truly a great city.
“The pleasure to serve this great city was mine, truly mine.”
Read more: LIVE: Edmonton election results coverage
Krushell congratulated Sohi on his win and offered to help in any way she could.
“Congratulations on your success in earning the trust and votes of Edmontonians.
“I wish you every success in tackling the big challenges our city is facing and seizing the opportunities before us.”
She said her opponents ran solid campaigns.
“I applaud all of their efforts and thank every campaign for helping drive an important discussion about the future of Edmonton.”
Sohi’s municipal election campaign focused on rebuilding and diversifying the economy, as well we tackling social issues and climate change.
Sohi believes the economy, social issues, climate change, and equity are interconnected.
“A healthy economy starts with healthy, resilient people. If we want stronger communities with thriving businesses, we must address issues of homelessness, substance use, and mental health. And we cannot leave anyone behind as we tackle climate change.”
In terms of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Sohi said the provincial government has failed, especially during the fourth wave.
As mayor, Sohi said his focus will be to limit transmission, boost vaccinations and keep Edmonton safe.
His plans include:
- Targeted vaccination clinics led by cultural, faith and community groups, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates.
- Hosting mobile vaccine clinics in city buildings and locations like libraries.
- Creating an advisory committee to help inform decisions on public health and pandemic measures.
- Conducting door-to-door outreach in communities with lower vaccination rates.
Sohi said he supports Edmonton’s decision to implement a vaccine mandate for staff and to require proof of vaccination at city rec centres.
He also said he would implement a vaccine passport bylaw similar to what Calgary has done in Edmonton if elected.