Amarjeet Sohi, former city councillor and federal cabinet minister, joins Edmonton mayoral race

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Amarjeet Sohi, seen here in a file photo, said Monday he is joining the race to become Edmonton's next mayor. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Amarjeet Sohi, seen here in a file photo, said Monday he is joining the race to become Edmonton's next mayor. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Former federal cabinet minister and Edmonton city councillor Amarjeet Sohi has joined the city's mayoral race.

Sohi announced his decision to run for mayor during a news conference Monday from his home in the city's southeast.

He joins nine other candidates vying to replace Don Iveson in the civic election this fall. The slate includes current city councillor Mike Nickel and former city councillors Kim Krushell and Michael Oshry.

Sohi said that if elected, he would focus on building a city that attracts and retains families and is well-equipped to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the city needs to focus on building post-pandemic supports for businesses and creating new job opportunities for out-of-work Edmontonians.

"My priority is going to be [to] work with the community, come up with a robust plan for recovery and economic growth, but do it in a way that it helps everyone, that we are able to create opportunities for everyone, people who have been left behind," he said.

Sohi said he would also focus on caring for seniors and providing more social support for homeless people and other vulnerable populations, and creating programs that help to address social inequities across the city.

He said Edmonton should be a "city of possibilities" for everyone.

"I believe that tackling social issues is a good economic policy because it allows us to reduce costs on many other aspects where taxpayer dollars are going.

"I think all of us need to work together to build an economy that works for everyone and does not leave people behind and at the same time, we're tackling systemic issues that our society in our city facing."

Sohi was first elected to Edmonton city council in 2007. Representing Ward 12, he served three terms before moving into federal politics as a Liberal candidate.

Sohi was elected in 2015 to represent the riding of Edmonton Mill Woods. He held posts in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet, first as minister of infrastructure and communities, and then as minister of natural resources.

Sohi was defeated in 2019, losing his seat to Conservative Tim Uppal.

The election will be held Oct. 18.

Mayor Don Iveson announced previously that he will not seek re-election.

CBC Edmonton is tracking the new mayoral candidates as they file their nomination papers. Read more about the candidates here.

MacEwan University political scientist Chaldeans Mensah described Sohi as a formidable candidate for mayor.

"I think his candidacy brings clarity to the campaign in terms of looking at the past as a guidepost for the future," Mensah said.

"He brings considerable experience of being on council and connections with the federal government, and, of course, he embodies some of these progressive values of addressing homelessness, dealing with climate change issues."

Mensah said the race for mayor is shaping up to be an existing one with "polarized camps" of the voting block.

"If you're looking for a candidate who is going to make a clean break from the Iveson years, from the progressive vision of Edmonton ... Nickel is your man."

He said Sohi is likely the most liberal and pragmatic of all the candidates but the crowded "middle lane" of contenders should not be ignored.

"The third lane is the pragmatic candidates that embody a combination of progressive liberalism, consensus-building, business and council experience, and that middle lane is crowded."

He said Edmontonians are focused on recovery and want a leader who can build collaboration in council chambers.

"[This campaign] sets Edmonton up for the post-pandemic phase of leadership in tackling difficult questions around, where do we head as a city?

"Edmontonians are looking for a visionary leader, somebody that can bring the council together to forge ahead and make decisions. And I think that is going to be a difficult for some of the candidates."

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