ALBERTA

Stephen Mandel Stepping Down: Edmonton Mayor Won't Seek Re-Election In The Fall

05/22/2013 01:14 EDT | Updated 09/19/2013 05:58 EDT
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He was neither loud nor flashy but Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel is leaving the city better than he found it, say those reacting to news the understated, hard-working politician is stepping down this fall.

"I’ve often disagreed with specific details of Mayor Stephen Mandel’s vision for the city," said the Edmonton Sun's Lorne Gunter.

"But there is no arguing with Mandel’s passion and dedication for the city we all share, or for its people.

"Mandel has been a good mayor, an honest mayor, a straightforward, straight-shooting mayor who has left the city better than he found it. It’s hard to say much better of a municipal politician."

Mandel announced Tuesday morning he won't be seeking re-election when his term is up in the fall.

He has served three terms as mayor of Alberta's capital and in an emotional announcement earlier this week, Mandel alluded the work has taken its toll.

"Coming into work today, I thought about 9 years ago... when we were making the decision to run for mayor and how fast the time has gone by and all the things that happened," he said.

"After 12 years in city hall and nine very, very busy years as mayor, I believe it is time to open up the door to new leadership to guide our city's path forward.

"It's a difficult decision, there's always more to do. The job of mayor is without the question, is without question, the best job in the city and I can tell you it has been a tremendous honour for me to hold that for the last nine years."

Through tears and emotional tone, the 67-year-old businessman said there are still projects he wants to see through before he leaves office after this fall's civic elections.

Comment boards and Twitter were abuzz with the news that Mandel was stepping down.

But unlike the negativity that follow public comments regarding anything to do with politicians, the sentiments being expressed towards Mandel were overwhelmingly positive.

Commenters praised the man's dedication, his vision and acknowledged the taxing nature of the job, while others suggested Mandel, unlike some, is actually deserving of a senate seat.

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Stephen Mandel Stepping Down

In its editorial Wednesday morning, the Edmonton Journal said Mandel will be a hard act to follow.

“Together we’ve invested over $9 billion in infrastructure, in roads, bridges, expanded LRT networks, community centres, recreation improvements," he told the Journal.

"After years of not investing in our city, this council had the vision, the desire to do the kind of things right for the citizens of Edmonton."

Mandel concentrated on, and may be remembered for, the work he did towards ending homelessness, promoting the arts and massive expansions in infrastructure.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who called Mandel a mentor, felt the need to mark the day, traveling up to Edmonton Tuesday evening and presenting his Edmonton counterpart with one of Calgary's iconic white hats.

Mayor Mandel has been nothing but an incredibly good friend to me personally, a great mentor, and a terrific leader for the big cities in this province,” Nenshi told Metro.

The mayor was praised also by his council colleagues who commented on the man's ability to transform council into a team.

University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera praised Mandel for his appreciation for the institution, citing his leadership and support behind U of A projects, such as the university's downtown campus, the Festival of Ideas and the shared waste management program.

"I have had many opportunities to work with Mayor Mandel, and have always been struck by his commitment to Edmonton and Edmontonians, his vision for the city and his level of engagement with the university," she said.

"As an outstanding champion for both the City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta, Mayor Mandel recognized that great cities need great universities, and great universities need great cities."