In a history-making move, Edmonton’s mayor became the first in decades to willingly step down from his office as Mayor, when he announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election.

Mayor Stephen Mandel made the announcement Tuesday at the Art Gallery of Alberta – he is the first Edmonton mayor in 45 years to leave the office on his own terms.

“A politician needs to know when to make room for fresh ideas, new energy and renewed leadership,” Mandel said during his speech.

Mandel was supposed to announce his plans in his State of the City address in early April; however, in his speech, he said he was putting off his announcement, citing a number of issues he felt needed to be dealt with first.

On Tuesday, in his speech, Mandel thanked his cohorts on City Council, for everything they had done.

“I’ve been blessed to have some incredible councillors over the last nine years,” Mandel said in his speech.

He went on to thank a former political leader for his support, thanking former Alberta premier Ed Stelmach, calling him a great mentor and a friend.

“I’m not going to stop working,” Mandel said, before thanking those in the room, saying “you make Edmonton a better place, one that we should all be proud of.”

At the end of his speech, an emotional Mandel was joined by his wife and family at the podium as he thanked them for their support over the years.

Mandel has come a long way from beating then three-term Mayor Bill Smith in 2004 – up until then, Mandel had been a councillor, representing his ward in west Edmonton.

One political scientist told CTV News he’d done nearly everything he set out to do.

“He mostly got what he wanted and that’s not a bad legacy to leave behind,” Political scientist Jim Lightbody said.

In his speech, Mandel said he was proud of the work the city had done to curb homelessness, and work with iHuman.

Major projects to take shape in Edmonton during Mandel’s time as mayor include the Art Gallery of Alberta, the LRT extension, and the downtown arena.

Afterwards, when speaking to the media, Mandel said the mayor’s office is a tough place to leave.

“I work seven days a week, most days 14 hours a day,” Mandel said. “You don’t just do that and walk away.

“I’m not sure I would have the passion for four more years, and this job is about passion.”

Some on council waiting to go public with intentions

Mandel’s decision to not seek the mayor’s seat again could be seen as a signal for the mayoral race to heat up – however, a number of councillors said that news could wait.

“Today is not the day to talk about who will run or not run,” Councillor Amarjeet Sohi said. “We will leave that for another day.”

Councillor Karen Leibovici said she hadn’t quite decided which direction she would go ahead of the upcoming election.

“I’m going to give it a little bit more thought, and I’ll make my decision known within the next while,” Leibovici said.

Councillor Kerry Diotte publicly announced his intentions to run for mayor, in speech made at a downtown hotel Thursday afternoon.

Whatever they decide, many who attended Mandel’s announcement agreed whoever Edmonton’s next mayor is will have big shoes to fill.

“No one is going to be a Mayor Mandel,” Councillor Dave Loken said. “You’re not going to be able to replace Stephen Mandel.”

Edmontonians will go to the polls October 21, 2013.

With files from Serena Mah