2020 Saskatoon civic election: who's running again and whose plans remain a mystery
8 of 11 city councillors confirm they will or likely will seek second terms
Exactly one year before Saskatoon voters go to the polls to elect their mayor and city council on Nov. 9, 2020, eight of 11 city councillors confirm they will or likely will be seeking their seats again.
On the mayoral front, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark has yet to confirm he will put his name forward again — even as a likely contender for his seat has emerged in the last few months.
Rob Norris, a former Sask. Party MLA, said he has a volunteer team advising him about the prospects of a 2020 run for mayor.
"Based on a series of requests by community leaders in Saskatoon last spring, I am giving serious consideration to the question of being a mayoral candidate in 2020," he said.
Norris, who works at Canadian Light Source as a senior government relations officer, has been meeting with a wide swath of community members and heavily promoting those visits on social media.
Appreciated the chance to speak with and hear from members of Saskatoon’s Usadian Executive Association <a href="https://twitter.com/saskatoonclub?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@saskatoonclub</a> <a href="https://t.co/OYhRG2xnGv">pic.twitter.com/OYhRG2xnGv</a>—@RobNorrisSK
"I've heard from working families, and small and medium sized business owners, to community leaders, Indigenous community members, newcomer groups, students and senior citizens," Norris said.
"Certainly there is a clear consensus that many people anticipate that this is going to be a change election."
Former Saskatoon mayor Don Atchison, who was unseated by Clark in 2016 and has gone on to promote a proposed World Trade Center in downtown Saskatoon, did not respond to several requests for comment.
Economy, climate change expected to be issues
Joe Garcea, a political studies teacher at the University of Saskatchewan, said the 2016 mayoral race played out as a contest between economic development versus social development.
He said a Clark-Norris contest would proceed along similar lines.
"Especially given that there's been a bit of a downturn in the economy," Garcea said.
"I think that a challenger like potentially Mr. Norris might come in and suggest that the city council and the mayor in particular might have been able to do a bit more in order to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn."
Ehab Diab, who teaches geography and planning at the university, cited three issues he expects will be prominent during the 2020 civic election:
- Continued planning for the bus-rapid-transit system (the first parts of which are set to launch in June 2025).
- The province's proposed Saskatoon freeway.
- Climate change.
"More and more cities are pronouncing climate emergencies like what we have seen in Toronto last month," he said.
City councillors Bev Dubois (Ward 9), Troy Davies (Ward 4), Cynthia Block (Ward 6) and Randy Donauer (Ward 5) said they will seek their ward seats again.
Both Davies and Donauer were opposed by only one contender in the 2016 election. Dubois faced off against the highest number of rival candidates — six.
In 2016, Davies was only one of three councillors who reported getting campaign contributions higher than $250 more than five months before election day, according candidates' disclosures of campaign contributions. The others were Clark and Mairin Loewen (Ward 7), who had the largest vote lead of any candidate in the 2016 election.
At a recent council meeting discussing plans for a new $154-million downtown library, Davies made some comments that seemingly put his plans in doubt.
Davies was speaking about the need for more information on the new library before city councillors vote on $87.5 million in borrowing for the project.
"The last thing I want to do moving forward is tie the hands of the future city council," he said. "Maybe it's the same people around this table, maybe it's not."
On Saturday, Ward 3 councillor Ann Iwanchuk confirmed she will seek to keep her seat for a third full term.
More recently, Loewen confirmed she will seek a second term too.
'Likely' 2nd-term hopefuls
Councillors Hilary Gough (Ward 2) and Sarina Gersher (Ward 8) say they are "likely" to run again too.
Gough faced off against five people in 2016, including former Ward 2 councillor Pat Lorje. CBC News has reached out to Lorje to ask if she will seek a return to city council.
Gersher had only one opponent in 2016.
All told, 39 people ran for council or the mayor's seat that year.
In the 2016 civic election, 40 per cent of Saskatoon's registered voters cast ballots.
The city will be challenged to meet or exceed that turnout in 2020 given the civic election will trail the Saskatchewan provincial election scheduled only two weeks before on Oct. 26.
"That's obviously going to be a big issue in the civic election especially," Diab said.
"Recruitment of campaign volunteers is going to be a bit a challenge," he said.
But Diab is also hopeful people in Saskatoon carry on their civic duties after the provincial contest.
"Overall, all the people who actually want to make a contribution to society will engage in both elections," he said.
In the 2016 provincial election, 57 per cent of registered voters voted, down from 66 per cent the previous election.
But Saskatchewan as a whole saw strong turnout in the recent 2019 federal election: 71.7 per cent of eligible voters across the province turned out at the ballot box this year, besting the national average of 66 per cent.
The city had asked the province, which sets both provincial and municipal election dates through legislation, to move the date for the 2020 provincial election. It did not, prompting the change of the Saskatoon election date to Nov. 9 from a previously set date of Oct. 28.
The final filing date for Saskatoon civic candidates in 2016 was 36 days before election day. So the final slate of 2020 candidates should be known by late September or early October.
- An earlier version of this story indicated the city had moved its election date. In fact, municipal election dates are set through provincial legislation.Nov 09, 2019 9:40 AM CT