On Oct. 19, City Councillor Amarjeet Sohi was elected as a Member of Parliament in the federal riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods. With Mr. Sohi’s resignation from city council in order to take his seat in the House of Commons, and his new post as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, a by-election will be held in order to fill the vacancy in Ward 12.
The Municipal Government Act states that a by-election must take place within 90 days of a council seat being vacated, which means the by-election would need to be held before the end of January 2016, depending on the exact date that Mr. Sohi resigned from city council.
At the council meeting on Nov. 3, 2015, councillors Tony Caterina and Andrew Knack introduced a motion requesting the city administration to prepare a report with recommendations for a date for the Ward 12 by-election. The motion was passed and the report is due at the next council meeting on Nov. 17, 2015 .
Mack Male has published an excellent blog post outlining many of the rules governing municipal by-elections in Edmonton.
Four candidates have already publicly declared their plans to become candidates in the Ward 12 by-election:
- Danisha Bhaloo – Manager of Fund Development, Boys and Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
- Irfan Chaudhry – Project Manager in the City of Edmonton’s Multicultural Relations Office and sessional criminology instructor at MacEwan University. Named by Avenue Magazine as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2013. (Announced on Twitter)
- Arundeep Singh – Vice-President Outreach of the Progressive Conservative Party and employee of his family’s gravel trucking business. (Reported in Metro Edmonton)
- Damien Austin – announced on his Facebook page that he will be a candidate in Ward 12.
In the realm of speculation and rumours, here are some names of potential candidates who could enter the Ward 12 by-election:
- Balraj Manhas – The president of the United Cabbies Association has been an outspoken advocate for the taxi industry against incursions by private driving company Uber. He ran for the PC nomination in Edmonton-Ellerslie but was disqualified by the central party.
- Laura Thibert – Serving her second term as a trustee of the Edmonton Catholic School District. Ms. Thibert was briefly nominated as the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2014 before declining to run in the provincial election.
- Naresh Bhardwaj – Now cleared of bribery allegations, the former PC MLA from Edmonton-Ellerslie could seek a return to political office after serving two terms in the Alberta Legislature.
- Tim Uppal – Former three-term Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park who was defeated by Mr. Sohi in this election in Edmonton-Mill Woods. Previously ran for parliament in the former Edmonton-Southeast riding in 2000 and served as Minister of State for Multiculturalism in the Conservative government.
- Harpreet Singh Gill – Founder of Asian Vision magazine and 2015 provincial Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Mill Creek.
- Carl Benito – The PC MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2008 to 2012. After facing controversy and media attention in his first term he was defeated in the PC nomination contest ahead of the 2012 election. He ran as an Independent candidate, placing fifth with 3.9 percent of the vote.
City council by-elections are uncommon in Edmonton, with the last one being held in 1994 to replace councillor Judy Bethel who had been elected as the Liberal MP for the Edmonton-East riding. Eighteen candidates ran in that by-election which resulted in Sherry McKibben being elected with 20 percent of the vote.