In 1951, William Hawrelak became the interim mayor of Edmonton when the mayor, Sidney Parsons, had to leave his position due to illness. In the municipal election held later that year, William Hawrelak was elected mayor of Edmonton, defeating the very man he had replaced as mayor. Hawrelak would win the next two municipal elections, in 1953 and in 1955, by acclamation and by a large majority in 1957. It appeared that nothing could topple Hawrelak from his position of mayor. In 1958, that would all change.
Ed Leger presented a petition to city council that called for an investigation into the 'city administration'. It was alleged that Hawrelak had used his position as mayor of Edmonton to make certain land transactions and business deals that directly benefited himself, his family, and his associates. In total, Hawrelak was implicated in six different land transactions. The Porter Commission, chaired by Justice Marshall Porter, decided that Hawrelak was guilty of "gross misconduct" in each of the land transactions that were in question. Hawrelak resigned from office on September 9, 1959.
In 1963, Hawrelak ran for mayor once again against Stanley Milner. Hawrelak won the election and became the mayor of Edmonton once again. However, in 1964, Hawrelak would once again be the subject of a controversy as he was accused of conflict of interest surrounding another land transaction. Hawrelak once again was found guilty and he once again had to leave his position as mayor. Hawrelak challenged his removal from office all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. All of the courts abided by the original decision.
Despite all of the turmoil, Hawrelak decided to run for mayor again in 1966. He lost to his challenger Vince Dantzer. However, this would not be the end of Hawrelak. In 1974, Hawrelak ran for mayor one last time. This time, he was successful. However, this election was Hawrelak's last one as he died on November 7, 1975. To this day, he remains one of Edmonton's most colorful and memorable mayors.