Progressive Conservative incumbent MLA Cal Dallas received an overwhelming vote of confidence from Red Deer South voters for the second time in a row.
The 55-year-old businessman picked up 6,094 votes or 45 per cent of the vote, according to 75 out of 80 polls, on Monday. In the March 2008 provincial election, voters gave Dallas 56 per cent of the vote.
“It’s largely one of relief,” said Dallas inside campaign headquarters packed with about 50 people. “We had so many volunteers this time, probably more than 150 individuals.”
Dallas said he knocked on more than 8,000 doors and during that time, he often spoke about how the party wanted to make sure that businesses could be successful, which ends up benefiting families.
“That’s the best part of these campaigns — you don’t get 28 straight days all day long where constituents tell you what’s important to them,” said Dallas.
The mood was more sullen and quiet inside the campaign headquarters of 37-year-old Wildrose Party candidate Nathan Stephan. The chartered accountant had 4,709 votes or 34 per cent of the vote at press time.
“I think it’s more what happened with the PCs — the tactics they used to draw the Liberal vote over to them,” said Stephan. Stephan said the results weren’t what he was expecting, based on the reception he was receiving at the door. But he was also prepared that the Tory stronghold could remain.
“I thought we ran a really good campaign, given the resources that we had,” said Stephan, who estimated his core team was made up of six volunteers.
Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer, a former city councillor who ran for the New Democratic Party, said she was glad with the results, which showed she was in third place with 1,500 voters or 11 per cent of the vote. It used to be that NDP candidates had to be parachuted in so now Red Deer seems to have a good base, she said.
“I think I had the reputation and qualifications,” said Watkinson-Zimmer, 64.
She wasn’t surprised by Dallas’s win because it’s “PC country afterall.”
Liberal candidate Jason Chilibeck, a 40-year-old businessman, said he had a “wonderful experience” running for the first time in provincial politics. He collected 1,059 votes or eight per cent of the vote.
“I think I had a lot of good ideas and energy,” he said. “I want to see the province to be the best it can be.”
Chilibeck said he wasn’t sure that Liberals were swinging the vote.
“It’s a democracy. You can’t control how people vote.”
Red Deer College instructor Serge Gingras finished with 541 votres, or four per cent of the vote, after running with the new centrist Alberta Party. The 53-year-old said he believed the strategic vote really worked for the PC party.
“I had a blast, the most fun I had in year,” said Gingras. “Four weeks ago, people didn’t know about the Alberta Party.”