Former Saskatoon mayor Don Atchison announces bid to reclaim office
SASKATOON -- Former Saskatoon mayor Don Atchison, who served in the role between 2003 and 2016, has announced he's running to reclaim the office.
"Our campaign is about what matters to all, safety, security, certainty and stability, and this is what we will deliver for the next four years," Atchison said during a kick-off event held at Rotary Park.
“I want to improve the quality of life for your family and I think of the children. The fundamental responsibility of government is to keep our families safe. I offer certainty and stability,” said Atchison.
Atchison said relocating the Lighthouse, the city's largest shelter for people who are homeless, from Saskatoon's downtown would be among his top priorities if elected.
“A solution for the Lighthouse will not be easy but it is something we cannot postpone,” Atchison said.
The former mayor also positioned himself in opposition to many of the decisions City Council has made in his absence.
Atchison said if elected, he would seek to undo council's commitment to a plan, expected to cost $19 billion over 30 years, that would lower greenhouse gas emissions in Saskatoon.
Also trained in Atchison's crosshairs, the planned $500 million bus rapid-transit system, planned bike lanes on 3rd Avenue South and the property tax hike set for 2021, which came out of the city's first multi-year budget.
In 2016 Atchison was defeated by then-city councillor Charlie Clark by just over 3,000 votes.
So far there are five people who have indicated they are running for mayor in Saskatoon.
The 2016 race was split four ways with Kelly Moore and Devon Hein also running for the mayor's seat.
Moore made a concerted push, garnering about 20 per cent of the 80,012 votes cast.
Hein, who did little traditional campaigning and was widely considered an outlier, came away with 548 votes.
Throughout the 2016 election cycle, Atchison and Clark had the benefit of name-recognition, thanks to many years both candidates spent involved in municipal politics.
In the end it came down to a two-way race. Atchison collected around 37 per cent of the overall vote and Clark achieved victory with 41 per cent.
Four years and a global pandemic later, the landscape in the 2020 mayor's race is a different one.
Aside from Clark, who announced his reelection bid in July, the race has another high profile challenger in Rob Norris.
The former provincial cabinet minister with the Sask Party and MLA for Saskatoon Greystone announced his mayoral run in June.
Zubair Sheikh, Caray Tarasoff and Mark Zielke have also put their names forward.
With the date when candidates can officially file nomination papers nearly a month away, there is still plenty of time for additional candidates to enter the race.