Three candidates to vie for Drumheller-Stettler seat

Nominations are officially closed for the May 5 provincial election.

Three people have stepped up to compete for the right to represent the riding of Drumheller-Stettler. Three candidates will be defending their platforms in public debate at the Stettler Recreation Centre on Monday, April 27.

The Incumbent: Rick Strankman, Wildrose Party

Rick Strankman is one of the few Wildrose MLAs who didn’t cross the floor to the Progressive Conservative party late last year with former leader Danielle Smith.

Strankman squeaked by incumbent Jack Hayden (PC) in the 2012 election by 853 votes.

Strankman involved himself in politics nearly 15 years ago while trying to fight the “unjust system” of the wheat board. He and others crossed the border and sold their barley in the United States, and were charged and convicted. They later received pardons from the Prime Minister.

He remained involved in politics and eventually found himself running for the Wildrose in 2012, campaigning on a desire for smaller government, political accountability and free legislative votes.

As one of the steadfast MLAs of the party, Strankman is heavily involved, but a recent poster snafu has left him with pie on his face. A group hosting an information night put out a poster calling for wives to bring pies, a statement found offensive by some. The posters were taken down.

Challenger: Jack Hayden, Progressive Conservatives

Former councillor and MLA Jack Hayden has entered the ring again, trying to win the riding back for the progressive conservative party. Hayden first won the riding in a by-election after deputy premier Shelly McClellan resigned. He won the riding in right in the next election.

Hayden has long been involved in politics, starting on a local level. He served as councillor and reeve for the County of Stettler, before going on to work with the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and County (AAMDC). He served a term as president of the AAMDC before going on to provincial politics.

During his time as an MLA, Hayden had several portfolios – infrastructure, agriculture, and tourism parks and recreation.

His terms in office weren’t without trouble, however. Allegations that someone at the County was using their work resources to support Hayden cast a cloud over not only him but the County as well. A bill signed into law by Hayden allowing energy companies to build on private land also caused dissent.

The Byemoor resident handily won his PC nomination over two challengers, Ed Mau and Greggory Jackson, and has so far had a relatively smooth campaign.

Challenger: Emily Shannon, NDP

Emily Shannon has lived in Edmonton since 2002, but fondly remembers her years growing up in Drumheller, which she frequently visits to spend time with her parents, who live there.

Shannon, a graduate of the University of Alberta with a BA in English and Political Science, has spent the past several years working behind the scenes in the NDP party. She works for the union representing her and others at the Real Canadian Superstore where she works, and previously worked on NDP leader Rachel Notley’s leadership campaign.

While not residing in the riding she wishes to represent has made Shannon’s work harder for her, she’s been out rallying NDP supporters and setting up signs across the riding.