St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse remains mum on the reasons he suddenly withdrew from the Liberal Party leadership race on Wednesday.
Many people were surprised by his decision that came just two days before the deadline.
In a public letter Crouse did not give a reason for withdrawing. He did later confirm it was not for any health related reasons and that his reasons for withdrawing are private. He said he doesn’t know what his next career will be, but he reaffirmed his decision not to run for mayor this fall.
“While many may wonder the reason(s) for this decision, the reasons will be kept private and I will provide “no comment” as to these varied questions and associated speculation,” Crouse said in a release.
Crouse also noted that he would like to “thank the hundreds who have assisted, volunteered and donated time; the support has been overwhelming and appreciated.”
Councillor Bob Russell said he wasn’t surprised to see Crouse step down, with three issues boiling in the background.
“I think it’s a wise decision. In fact when he first said that he was considering running, I said ‘I think you need a good cooling off period and you have three issues coming at you this summer.’”
Russell said that there are three issues that could have deterred Crouse from continuing in the race: the inspection from the provincial government into the affairs of the city; the lawsuit where Crouse is named as a co-defendant in an abuse of process action; and a court application to have him step down as mayor over allegations of pecuniary interest.
Councillor Wes Brodhead said he was surprised to see Crouse bow out of the race. He said usually when Crouse commits to something he is usually all in.
“I respect Mayor Crouse and I honestly think the Liberal Party would have been well served by him as a leader,” Brodhead said. “He is a hard working guy. I wish him well in whatever his future endeavours may be. St. Albert has been well served by his many years on council and with his leadership.”
The Alberta Liberal Party was also surprised to see its only declared candidate drop out of the race. They had no idea he was considering bowing out.
“We wish him well and any candidate’s decision,” Gwyneth Midgley, executive director for the Alberta Liberal Party said. “It’s a tough thing to be in politics, especially partisan politics. We totally respect that he decided not to do this. We are carrying on and I’m glad we have other candidates.”
Two other Calgary candidates, Kerry Cundal and David Khan, have entered the race since Crouse dropped out.
Currently, the Alberta Liberal Party only has one seat in the legislature, which is held by MLA David Swann in the Calgary-Mountain View riding. Swann is the interim leader of the party.
The Alberta Liberal Party leadership race wraps up with a one-week voting period for party members in May. A new leader will be announced June 4, 2017.
– With files from Doug Neuman