Linda Johnson and Byron Nelson speak out in public forum
The Progressive Conservative Party is fighting to regain the placement of an MLA in the riding of Calgary-Glenmore, after losing it to Wildrose Alliance candidate Paul Hinman in the 2009 by-election.
Currently, there are two PC candidates competing to run for the PC party in the Calgary-Glenmore riding; Byron Nelson, a lawyer, and Linda Johnson, a community worker.
On Jan. 26, there will be a nomination election to determine which of the candidates will run for MLA in the riding in the provincial election, date yet to be announced.
“I’m here to beat Hinman,” said Nelson, during a meet-your-candidate public forum held at Haysboro Community Centre on Jan. 19.
Johnson is fighting to win back the riding as well.
“While we have to respect the voters’ choice, we wish PC had won,” she said.
Johnson said she believes her party lost the riding as “a result of unhappy residents who wanted to make a statement.”
Some of the main issues affecting residents of the riding are health care, education, and the ring road. “We [the PC party] have had enough time to start working through these issues,” she said.
While the residents of Calgary-Glenmore were unhappy with the conservative’s approach to solving the local issues, Nelson said he believes the reason people chose to vote for Hinman in the 2009 by-election was to place an “anti-Ed vote.”
“At the time, people had a negative view of (former premier) Ed Stelmach, which didn’t improve until after he resigned from office,” Nelson said.
Stelmach became the Premier after winning the Tory leadership race in 2006, and after four years suddenly resigned after a political showdown with Ted Morton, a Globe and Mail story said.
Losing the riding to Wildrose Alliance in the Calgary-Glenmore riding was a blow to the PC party, but Bill Smith, party president, said he believes that the “people who chose Hinman will soon rethink that decision.”
“Things are running efficiently under the current Premier, Alison Redford,” Smith said. “We’re building up credibility in the world, and that’s our goal. People will change their vote.”
Both potential candidates agree the riding is winnable, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
Johnson has been preparing for candidacy for several months, spending time within the community to make sure she has public support.
Johnson said she has created a volunteer team from members of her riding, whom she meets weekly for campaign advice on how to best approach the needs of her constituents.
Johnson also spent the last several months knocking on doors, putting up signage and volunteering at the local community association.
“This is going to be won vote-by-vote to get the MLA (position), and I am passionate about people,” Johnson said.
The next provincial election is expected in the spring, and it will determine which party’s candidate will represent the riding in the legislature. The Progressive Conservative Party has 87 candidates elected to run in Alberta’s ridings, with the candidates of 30 other ridings to be decided.
“Leadership is going to be a main topic of the election. We need to be realistic and we need a loud voice to represent the people,” Nelson said.
Nelson has campaigned by going door to door in the riding and at the Mount Royal University residence, as well as using social networking. He said he hopes that young adults will become more interested in the voting process.
“Getting youth involved is important.” Nelson said.
Nelson plans to reach youth through Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. He also plans to visit local skating rinks, restaurants and senior homes to increase his presence in the community, and prepare for the provincial election — an election that, if it comes down to himself and Hinman, he is confident he will win.
“Paul Hinman was a poor choice for the riding,” he said. “I don’t mean to be cocky, but me versus Hinman? I’m going to appeal to the people.”
Voters will gather at the Haysboro Community Centre Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. to decide whether Johnson or Nelson will run in the next election.