'They don't owe me a thing': Iveson defends endorsements as he leaves office
Edmonton’s outgoing mayor is standing firm on his decision to endorse candidates in the upcoming civic election - despite some blowback from others on the ballot.
Don Iveson has approved four candidates for council and one for school board trustee.
“I don't begrudge other civic leaders, even if they have a partisan background weighing in and endorsing on a human to human level,” Iveson said in a sit-down interview with CTV News Edmonton.
“I think it's useful for leaders with credibility to use that credibility to say, ‘This is a person who, you know, if you trust me you might want to consider trusting them.’”
Iveson chose Anne Stevenson in Ward O-day'min, Ashley Salvador in Ward Métis, Ahmed Knowmadic Ali in Ward tastawiyiniwak and Karen Tang in Ward Karhiio.
On Tuesday, he also selected Julie Kusiek for school board trustee in Ward F.
Incumbent candidates Tony Caterina and Jon Dziadyk both responded with jabs back at Iveson after he endorsed their opponents.
The situation made tensions in the outgoing council more obvious — as both councillors said they’re not surprised Iveson doesn’t support them.
IVESON MAY BE BREAKING COUNCIL RULES: KRUSHELL
Former councillor and mayoral candidate Kim Krushell responded with a “no endorsement pledge” of her own and she even suggested Iveson may be breaking the Council Code of Conduct.
“To make an endorsement while in a position of power is an attempt, either implied or explicit, at influencing the outcome of an election,” she wrote on her blog.
Krushell referenced the council’s code - Bylaw 18483 - which states that councillors can “participate freely and fully in politics” but only if they do so in a personal capacity and not “as elected officials.”
But Iveson argues he won't be in a position of power after election day - and he's not asking for anything in return.
“I have no skin in the game other than being a private citizen, like, you know most everybody else in a couple of weeks,” he said.
“They are personal endorsements and people of character who will uphold that culture of independence and high debate here that I think we need more of and they don't, they don't owe me a thing.”
The mayor is not the only high-profile politician to offer a stamp of approval.
Several NDP MLAs have endorsed candidates across Alberta. A UCP Press Secretary is running for a council seat, as is a former president of the Alberta Party.
NDP leader Rachel Notley has defended her MLAs on the issue and claimed there is no official party effort to get a “slate” of NDP-beholden candidates elected.
Iveson points out that former councillors Michael Phair and Janice Melnychuk endorsed him, and he claims they didn't come calling to collect on that favour.
“That was incredibly helpful to me as an independent to come into the system, and they've never tried to collect anything for me on that. So I think endorsements freely offered for people of integrity and high capacity are in the public interest, where there's no other hidden agenda (are OK), and there's absolutely none in my case.”
Iveson hasn’t announced whether he will run for political office again or not.
The election is Monday, Oct. 18.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson
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