Hundreds of thousands of Albertans visited the polls to exercise their democratic right on Tues. April 16.
The Drumheller-Stettler constituency, one of the largest in southern Alberta, had six candidates running for the chance to have a seat at the proverbial table as an MLA.
Unofficial results from Elections Alberta suggest United Conservative Party (UCP) candidate Nate Horner rose above the competition, taking over 75 per cent of the vote.
“It feels great. The goal was always to travel the entire area and create those relationships and know the local issues and that was the angle that I took to it. I wanted to be a representative from the country that knew the issues. I think that has served me well in general,” said Horner.
He attributes his success to the passion he has for the area combined with his team of supporters who were with him every step of the way.
“I couldn’t thank the team enough like the team is spread out throughout the riding and just great, great people that were just excited for change and who wanted to help. It definitely takes a team to be effective in a riding that’s built like this at this size,” said Horner.
New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate, Holly Heffernan, came in at a distant second at 6.5% per cent or 1,395 votes while Rick Strankman placed third at 1,801 votes.
Alberta Party’s Mark Nikota took fourth place at 1,380 votes.
Jason Hushagen of the Alberta Independence Party claimed second last place, while Jason Herzog of the Alberta Advantage Party (APP) came in last for the riding.
“I think this is a process where it takes a lot of courage to put your name out there and we have to respect everybody that has gone through this process and I respect Rick for his service and would certainly like to wish him well in all of his future endeavours,” said Horner.
The hard-fought battle has come to be a breath of fresh air not only for the province but also oil, gas, and agriculture centric rural Alberta.
Horner hopes to pave the way for better economic development in the area as well as eliminating certain bills and taxes to move the province forward.
First steps include an orientation process within the next few weeks for MLAs.
“We have some low hanging fruit that we want to attack first. We want to repeal the carbon tax and there’s a list of bills to repeal and get started on and to try and learn quickly,” he continued.
“We are in one of the highest areas of unemployment so getting the economy rolling and everything that is part of that. Our plan is big in detail from cutting red tape to cutting taxes but just sooner we can begin the process [the better].”
Rick Strankman originally claimed his seat in 2012 under the Wildrose Party which amalgamated with the Progressive Conservative Party in 2017 to create the current UCP.
In February, Strankman announced he will be sitting as an independent after being ousted by Horner for the UCP candidate position in late October 2018.
A member vote was called to determine the constituency candidate which resulted in the candidacy choice.
Since the MLA position has now been chosen, Strankman finds he will have much more time to focus on property right issues within the Special Areas as well as spending time at his farm near Altario with family.
“I’m actually feeling quite relieved. It’s going to allow me marvellous freedom to proceed with entrenching property rights in Alberta. Jason Kenney has talked about becoming the global leader in property rights but the policies that they put forward do have some serious deficiencies so I would like to be the advocate for that and I’m going to try and go forward,” said Strankman.
His time as MLA is looked upon fervently but Strankman still remains focused on the future.
“I’m greatly fulfilled by the people that I have met. There are good people everywhere and I just quite enjoy the flavour of the diverse constituency. […] I’m not looking at full retirement here. I’m just looking at a new page as our family has told me ‘Dad, come April 17 we are going to be having a new page in our family here’ and we are looking forward to it. I’m happy to go forward here,” said Strankman.
Leading up to election day, Elections Alberta noted that after five days of advanced polling approximately 696,000 people voted, creating a new record.
For the first time, Elections Alberta provided a ‘Vote Anywhere’ service, whereby electors can receive the ballot for their electoral divisions, at any location which was only applicable to advanced poll stations.
Day one of advanced polling saw 140,000 people which was more than double the amount in 2015 during the last provincial election.
“It’s enormous,” said Horner. “It’s going to set a record and I think it shows an appetite for change and nobody is asleep this time. This should be a good representation of Alberta because everybody is paying attention and ready to cast their votes.”
For the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills riding, UCP’s Nathan Cooper took his seat as returning MLA with 19,104 while NDP’s Kyle Johnston came in second at 2,824 votes.
Jackie Lovely of the UCP was named Camrose riding’s MLA with 14,608 votes and NDP’s Morgan Bamford took second place at 3,869 votes.
Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright’s new MLA is Garth Rowswell of the UCP after holding an even 78 per cent of the vote in the riding.
On a provincial scale, to claim a majority government a single party must obtain 44 seats.
The UCP have done this with 63 seats in the legislature.