Iveson: Not seeking re-election a 'family decision,' successor must have 'good character'
EDMONTON -- Don Iveson had always intended to cap his tenure as Edmonton mayor at eight years. But at age 41, it wasn’t a slam-dunk decision either for the 6’4” tall Iveson, who announced Monday morning he would not be seeking a third term as mayor in 2021.
“I was giving serious thought to running again because of all of the pressure and disruption our community is facing,” Iveson commented during a virtual scrum with reporters, citing “family factors” and a desire to do something different as the main reasons for his decision.
He said he even made a "decision tree" to help him. Ultimately, Iveson felt it was time for a change.
“I've had more time with my kids and been around the dinner table more as a family in the last eight months than in the last eight years,” said Iveson of the unseen benefit of a pandemic that has placed huge financial pressures on the City of Edmonton.
“I think some new perspective from the next mayor and a very deliberate conversation for the public about the direction they want council and the mayor to go, you know, will be refreshing for the city.”
Iveson joined city council in 2007 and was first elected as mayor in 2013. He won a second term in 2017.
Iveson said he currently has no plans to seek any other form of public office and is focused on finishing his final months on a positive note.
There’s long been speculation Iveson may one day pursue provincial or federal politics.
“I'm really looking forward to some time to reflect about whatever I might get to do next, but haven't made any decisions at all in that regard,” he responded.
As for who might succeed him, Iveson is not throwing his support behind anyone in particular -- at least not yet. But he said whoever leads the city next must have “good character” and be extremely “team oriented.”
“Edmontonians will have to vet the candidates themselves and we'll see what the field shapes up like. And I might have something to say about that later on but at this point it's way too soon to call anything.”
THE POSSIBLE CANDIDATES
Five people have expressed interest in running for mayor but only two have officially announced their intentions: Crestwood Community League President Diana Steele, who declared her candidacy following Iveson’s announcement, and businessperson Cheryll Watson.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork,” said Dave Cournoyer, a political analyst.
Among those considering entering the race is current Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel. In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, he would not confirm any plans but said he has "no plans to abandon Edmonton. The people give me hope each day to continue."
On Iveson's announcement, Nickel added, "When times were good, spending money and appearing for photo ops was the easy part. It comes as no surprise with the photo ops drying up and the money all but gone, the Mayor has announced his farewell tour."
Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack is also considering vying for the mayor’s seat but still has “a lot to think about.” Knack told CTV News Edmonton he considers Iveson a mentor, especially when it comes to engaging with Edmontonians.
“By watching how he did it and say, 'Can I apply that to what I’m doing and reach out to more and more people, even those that hate me?’" pondered Knack.
“It’s still good to engage with them.”
The next Edmonton municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2021.
A previous version of this article stated Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack made the comments regarding Mayor Don Iveson and the city. Those comments were made by Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel. The story has been updated to reflect that.