With Edmonton’s next municipal election less than a year and a half away (and new Ward Boundaries up for debate) one of the big questions looming is whether Stephen Mandel will seek a third term as Mayor. Mandel has hinted in the past that he would only serve two terms in the Mayor’s office, but if his two immediate predecessors are any indication, it is likely that he might seek a third term. Although I’m not sure if Mandel would face a serious challenger if he does run for re-election, his absence from the 2010 race could draw some interesting candidates into the contest. While no one has yet to declare their candidacy, here are some of the names that I’ve heard mentioned:
Karen Leibovici: A seasoned political veteran after serving three-terms on as a Councillor for Ward 1 (2001-present) and two-terms as the MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark (1993-2001), Leibovici is well positioned to compete for the Mayor’s chair. While her background in social work and time as a Liberal MLA solidified her centre-left credentials, Leibovici has played the role of Council fiscal hawk on more than one occasion (including joining with former right-wing Councillor Mike Nickel to vote against the Universal Bus Pass in 2007). Her credentials in Edmonton’s established political community also put her in a strong position to gain the support of many of Mandel’s organizers, which means her candidacy many depend on whether the current Mayor decides to seek a third term.
Linda Sloan: Also a Councillor for Ward 1 and former Edmonton-Riverview MLA (1997-2001), Sloan could be a strong candidate for Mayor. Her background as a nurse and former President of the Staff Nurses Association would likely ensure her campaign strong support from the City’s public sector unions. While her passion for seniors and emergency services issues has gained her notoriety, Sloan’s passion can sometimes be the source of tension between herself and fellow Councillors. During last year’s budget debates, Ward 5 Councillor Bryan Anderson infamously muttered the words “Jesus, Linda. Shut up, please” during one of those tense moments. Her seat at the head table with Michael Ignatieff at his recent Edmonton fundraising dinner have fueled rumours of a potential candidacy for the Federal Liberals in Edmonton-Centre.
Kim Krushell: After working as Executive Assistant to Councillor Larry Langley, Krushell was elected to her first term on Council in 2004. Since then she has been closely identified with Edmonton’s Next Gen committee and was Council’s point-person on the Universal Bus Pass (media-savvy Krushell could also be counted as the Councillor most likely to get media exposure on a weekly basis). While it may be easy to dismiss Krushell’s chances, it would be a mistake to confuse her enthusiasm for a lack of political savvy. A long-time PC Party member, Krushell endorsed Jim Dinning for the PC leadership in 2006 and could potentially call on her partisan connections to help her campaign in a potential contest against two former Liberal MLAs.
The ‘Airport’ candidate: As I wrote in an earlier blog post, with the City Centre Airport (ECCA) issue coming to a head around the time of the next municipal election, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG) use this as a springboard to front a candidate for Mayor. Who would take this mantle? The AEG originated from the organization created to provide financial backing to Mark Norris’ unsuccessful campaign for the PC leadership in 2006, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see this group support an attempted political comeback by the former Edmonton-McClung PC MLA. Another potential ‘Airport’ candidate could be current Ward 3 Councillor and staunch defender of the ECCA, Tony Caterina.
Robert Noce: After trying twice for Mayor in 2001 and 2004, a vacancy in the Mayor’s chair could convince Noce that third time’s a charm. While the former Ward 3 Councillor (1995-2001) has stayed away from official politics, Noce has represented local developers in a number of cases, including the controversial high rise condo development in Glenora in 2008. Noce was rumoured to be interested in the Edmonton-East Liberal candidacy before the 2004 federal election, and more recently I have heard (questionable) chatter that he is interested in seeking the Conservative nomination when five-term Conservative MP Peter Goldring retires.
Don Koziak: After placing a distant second with 25% of the vote in 2007s thoroughly uncompetitive Mayoral race, I would imagine that the Team Koziak will be unlikely to re-start their engines if the contest attracts a stronger field of candidates in 2010. Koziak, the owner of the Chateau Louis Hotel was an unsuccessful Ward 2 candidate in 1995, 1998, and 2004. In 2000, Koziak was the PC candidate in Edmonton-Calder before withdrawing his candidacy for personal reasons.
Mike Nickel: Where in the world is former Councillor Mike Nickel? Gone into self-imposed political exile after being unseated by Don Iveson in 2007, the former Stickman, one-term Councillor, and two-time Mayoral candidate (1998 and 2001) has dropped off the political radar. Three years may be too soon for Nickel to mount a political comeback, but the new proposed Ward boundary changes could make a City Hall comeback much easier for Nickel.
Brian Mason: Ok, I’ll admit that this is an unlikely scenario. Though the leader of Alberta’s NDP probably won’t run for Mayor, with the name recognition earned after two decades as a Councillor (1989-2000) and MLA (2000-present), Mason would make an interesting entry into the race. His victory would be long-shot, but his departure from the Legislature would open a door in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood for some new blood for Alberta’s third-place party (Deron Bilous or Janice Melnychuk could make convincing candidates) and would allow for heir-apparent and well-spoken co-caucus mate Rachel Notely to take the helm of the tiny Alberta NDP caucus.