Now that the dust has settled on the downtown arena, some at City Hall are looking forward to the fall municipal election – and one has become the first to announce he will run for mayor.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Kerry Diotte announced his plans to run for the mayor’s seat.

Leading up to the fall election, Diotte is the first to go public with plans to run for mayor – saying: “I’m resolved to take my fight for a better Edmonton to the next level.”

It’s not clear who Diotte’s opponents will be, as a number of councillors with eyes on the mayor’s seat have said they wouldn’t announce their plans until Mayor Stephen Mandel announced his.

Mandel was expected to announce his intentions for the upcoming election at his State of the City address in early April.

However, he said in his speech that there were a number of items facing the city that he felt needed to be dealt with before he could decide what to do.

The announcement came after Mandel publicly slammed Diotte and two other councillors, over their votes against the downtown arena project Wednesday.

“Fortunately, we have ten councillors that are visionary enough to realize that it’s more important to build a city, than it is to sit back and do nothing,” Mandel said Thursday morning.

Later on, his comments focused more on Diotte, and his track record on council.

“You need to look at his record, you need to do your homework and you can see what has been accomplished or hasn’t been accomplished and we’ll leave it at that,” Mandel said.

However, Diotte said he wasn’t concerned about Mandel’s opinion of him, saying he was more focused on the citizens.

“I’m not concerned by what the mayor may or may not think of me,” Diotte said. “I am concerned by what Edmontonians think of me, because they’re the people who matter.”

Local political scientist Jim Lightbody will be watching this race closely, as he has watched civic politics for decades.

He remembers the political climate and mayoral race that ended with Mandel winning his first term as mayor in 2004.

“Well, Mandel was a totally irrelevant councillor going into that campaign, he was a one-term councillor going into that campaign from the west end,” Lightbody said. “No one really knew who the heck he was.”

With the other opponents still to come forward, Lightbody believes Diotte will provide a good challenge for the mayor’s office, because his vision for running the city is different – just as Diotte stated in his speech Thursday afternoon.

But it’s a vision at least one colleague on council isn’t clear on.

“I’m interested to see with Diotte’s announcement, what vision he presents for the city,” Councillor Don Iveson said. “After three years of working with him, I’d struggle to guess what it would be.”

As for Diotte’s platform, few specifics were outlined – Diotte said he would listen to Edmontonians, and be fiscally responsible, and although he voted against the downtown arena deal on Wednesday, he said he would honour it, saying he believes the city is bound by it.

With files from Susan Amerongen