CALGARY – Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi will not seek re-election in the October local vote.
The now 49-year-old has held office for the past decade and was first elected in 2010 after starting out as a largely unknown personality. He defeated then Alderman Ric McIver and former CTV Calgary news anchor Barb Higgins in a close race. He then won easily in 2013 and again in 2017.
Nenshi announced that he will not run for re-election in 2021 during a Facebook Live session on Tuesday.
After riding on a wave of support dubbed the Purple Revolution – one of the earliest to adopt social media as a central strategy, engaging younger voters in it – Nenshi became best known for his handling of the 2013 tide, where he was named calm, steady voice seen during what was then the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.
He has achieved several other notable achievements, including serving as the first mayor as Grand Marshal of the Calgary Pride Parade in 2011 and receiving the World Mayor Award from the City Mayors Foundation in 2014 – the first Canadian to receive the award.
He is also the first Muslim to serve as the mayor of a major North American city.
Nenshi’s tenure also coincided with several major infrastructure projects, including redeveloping the East Village area, building the $ 295 million airport tunnel, and building the new $ 245 million public central library.
There were also some challenges during his tenure.
In December 2015, Nenshi and developer Cal Wenzel reached an out-of-court settlement after Wenzel filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the mayor over comments he made during a radio interview in which Nenshi Wenzel was with the fictional mafia -Compared figure of godfather.
And in 2016, Nenshi was picked up while driving a Lyft vehicle in Boston, belittling the then-CEO of Uber, who recently launched in the city.
Nenshi was also criticized for a number of residential property tax hikes during his tenure, and he had to call in an industrial psychologist to deal with dysfunction and disputes among city councilors.
Marc Henry, who served as chief of staff to former Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and now heads the ThinkHQ polling office, said he was “a little surprised, then not” when he heard the news.
The fact that Nenshi’s popularity waned in recent years, Henry said, was a natural development most politicians experienced at some point.
“It’s just a function of durability, any politician, you can’t stay in those high numbers forever,” he said.
“It’s just a function of time.”
Henry also called Nenshi a “darling” of the national press.
“He’s certainly an excellent communicator and he still is today,” he said. “There are very few people who can stand up out of time and just give a speech that is a very good speech, and he does it very well. He’s a very good speaker.”
As of Tuesday morning, 10 people are registered to run for mayor in the October vote, including:
Kevin J. Johnston
Today I share my decision about the 2021 election.
I won’t run for mayor this October.
Calgary, thanks for everything. It was the honor of my life. pic.twitter.com/CT2xFGbbPA
– Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) April 6, 2021