Monday may not mark the end of election season for some Albertans. As voters head to the polls to determine the next provincial government, there is a significant aspect that warrants attention: the municipal leaders who aspire to transition to provincial politics.
Several municipally elected officials are currently running for the position of Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in their respective ridings. Jason Heistad, the current Innisfail Town Councillor, is seeking election in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake under the Alberta NDP. Taneen Rudyk, a current Vegreville Councillor, is running for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, also under the Alberta NDP. Additionally, Katherine Swampy, a Samson Cree Nation Band Councillor, is vying for Maskwasic-Wetaskiwin, representing the Alberta NDP.
In the southern region of Calgary, Mayor Chelsae Petrovic is running for the United Conservative Party (UCP) in the Livingstone-McLeod riding. In the same riding, Kevin Todd, who currently serves on Nanton's Town Council, is running for the Alberta Party.
Heading north of Edmonton to the Town of Mayerthorpe, Janet Jabush, the Mayor of Mayerthorpe, is representing the Alberta Party and challenging the incumbent UCP candidate, Shane Getson, along with former NDP Agriculture Minister Oneil O'Calier in Lac St. Anne Parkland.
In the province's oil heartland, Funky Banjoko, a councillor in the R.M. of Wood Buffalo, is running as an independent candidate in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.
For me, these specific ridings are worth observing closely. Many have asked which ridings I will be closely monitoring on Monday night as the polls report their results. Well, the aforementioned ridings, along with a few others, have caught my attention which are listed below.
The seven current locally elected leaders who are running for the position of MLA may spark by-elections in their communities. According to the Municipal Government Act, A council must hold a by-election to fill a vacancy on the council unless the vacancy occurs 6 months before a general election. *Quickly Checks Notes* Yup! We are well outside that 6 month period before the next municipal elections in Alberta in 2025.
I have always found it intriguing when municipal leaders, who typically run independently in a non-partisan realm, transition into provincial or federal politics. The freedom from not being tied to a specific leader or political brand is often an enticing prospect in municipal politics. However, some individuals have a genuine desire to climb the political ladder in order to make a difference in their communities.
I had the privilege of sitting down with four former municipal leaders who successfully made the leap into provincial politics in January for a show. Former MLAs Bill Purdy, Fred Lindsay, and Richard Starke, as well as current MLA Searle Turton, all of whom shared their insights. These interviews reshaped my perception of municipal government.
Could the municipal realm be seen as a mere stepping stone for future provincial and federal leaders? Do municipal politicians make better MLAs or MPs? Does spending years on the front lines of government in the "Political Trenches" translate into being a more effective representative at the provincial or federal level?
Honestly, I believe so. Municipal government is where the real action takes place. It provides firsthand experience in dealing with a wide range of issues on a daily basis. It allows for the most direct impact on one's community and enables prospective councillors, mayors, and reeves to truly understand the essence of good governance.
Now, I am not suggesting that provincial and federal politicians who dive headfirst into provincial or federal politics without municipal experience are inherently inadequate. Quite the contrary. However, in this day and age, experience holds significant value, and I would favour a capable municipally elected leader over someone without governance experience any day.
Therefore, I would like to draw your attention to the following candidates. While this is not a full-on endorsement of these candidates, if I were in their respective ridings, I would certainly give them strong consideration when casting my vote in this campaign.
Barry Morishita – Brooks - Medicine Hat - Former Mayor of Brooks *Leader of the Alberta Party*
Janet Jabush – Lac St. Anne Parkland – Current Mayor of the Town of Mayerthorpe
Kevin Todd – Livingstone McLeod – Current Councillor for the Town of Nanton
Joe Ceci – Calgary Buffalo – Former Calgary City Councillor
Druh Farrell – Calgary Bow – Former Calgary City Councillor
Jason Heistad – Innisfail - Sylvan Lake – Current Innisfail Town Councillor
Kevin McLean – Grande Prairie – Former Grande Prairie City Councillor
Rob Miyashiro – Lethbridge - East – Former Lethbridge City Councillor
Taneen Rudyk – Fort Saskatchewan Vegreville – Current Vegreville Councillor
Karen Shaw – Morinville St. Albert – Former Sturgeon County Councillor
Katherine Swampy – Maskwasic Wetaskiwin – Samson Cree Nation Band Councillor
Bill Tonita – Strathcona Sherwood Park – Former Strathcona County Councillor
United Conservative Party
Ric McIver – Calgary Hays – Former Calgary City Councillor
Ron Wiebe – Grande Prairie Wapiti – Former McKenzie County Councillor
Chelsae Petrovic – Livingstone MacLeod – Current Mayor of Claresholm
Rick Wilson - Maskwasic - Wetaskiwin – Former Wetaskiwin County Councillor
Searle Turton – Spruce Grove - Stony Plain – Former City of Spruce Grove Councillor
Tim Hoven – Rimby Rocky Mountain House Sundre – Former Reeve of Clearwater County
Funky Banjoko – For McMurray Wood Buffalo – Current RM of Wood Buffalo Councillor