2021 Edmonton mayoral race heating up with four possible challengers emerging
EDMONTON -- Edmonton’s 2021 mayoral race is starting to take shape, with several likely candidates now confirming they are either running for the top council job or seriously considering it.
Current mayor Don Iveson has not publicly stated whether he will run again in October 2021, and a spokesperson for Iveson told CTV News Edmonton Thursday they had no statement.
Meanwhile, four possible challengers for the mayor’s chair now include two sitting city councillors, a former member of council and a local tech leader.
Ward 11 (Which will be known as Karhiio as of the 2021 election) councillor Mike Nickel started collecting donations Thursday afternoon - although he stopped short of publicly announcing his candidacy.
“I’m actively being encouraged to run for mayor. I have not made a firm decision,” Nickel’s tweet read, with a link of where to donate to a goal of $5000.
Nickel confirmed he was exploring a run when reached Thursday night, but he said he had nothing further to add.
Nickel’s website said he was only able to raise $5,000 at this time because of elections laws. He added in a tweet that all donations will be returned if he does not run.
Former city councillor Kim Krushell confirmed to CTV News Edmonton that she is also exploring a run for mayor.
Krushell would not comment further and has not formally launched a campaign or a website.
She served as Ward 2 councillor from 2004 until she stepped away from politics in 2013 to run a software company.
Cheryll Watson, a self-described tech sector leader and recent vice president of Innovate Edmonton, announced her mayoral run on Twitter Tuesday morning.
“2020 has caused all of us to look inwards – and re-evaluate what matters most in our lives and communities. What matters most to me? A city that serves every Edmontonian,” Watson’s campaign website reads.
“I've led transformational change in both the private and public sector. Now I want to lead our city forward,” she wrote.
Ward 1 (soon to be Nakota Isga) Councillor Andrew Knack also said that he’s considering a run at the mayor’s chair but said he’s waiting to see who else joins the race before making a final decision.
"Yes, considering it but recognizing there might be some really excellent people that I think would be even better mayors who are considering it right now," Knack said.
LOCAL POLITICAL WRITER WEIGHS IN
Dave Cournoyer, creator of the “Daveberta” political website and podcast, doesn’t know if Iveson is going to run or not either, but suggested he won’t be easy to beat if he does.
“He has two terms under his belt, he’s very well known, he won reelection by a huge margin three years ago, so that’s the biggest undetermined question of the election,” Cournoyer said.
Cournoyer didn’t know Watson well and suggested name recognition would be a challenge for her and a good reason to launch her campaign early.
Cournoyer called Krushell a “capable politician,” but said seven years away from politics will force her to have to reintroduce herself to many voters.
And having lost mayoral runs in both 1998 and 2001, and a council seat that Don Iveson won in 2007, were cited as reasons Cournoyer doesn’t love Nickel’s chances in 2021.
“Name recognition cuts both ways, and I’m not necessarily sure that’s a real positive for Mike Nickel. He’s controversial, he’s known for not working well with others,” Cournoyer said.
Nickel and Knack have been debating policies on Twitter for weeks, fuelling speculation that the two are giving a preview of a future election battle, which both now confirm is a possibility.
“He’s a very engaging guy. He’s very involved in his community. He’s very active online, he’s very active in his ward. He works hard,” Cournoyer said of Knack.
Whomever wins the 2021 election will not have an easy job, Cournoyer pointed out.
“We’re going through a global pandemic right now, our economy is not fantastic, we have a provincial government that is determined in laying off many public sector workers who live in Edmonton. Things may have looked a little rosier three years ago,” the Daveberta author said.
The next Edmonton election is scheduled for October, 18 2021.