New leader of the Alberta Party Stephen Mandel, is followed by Kara Levis, and Rick Fraser as they make their way in for the leadership announcement, in Edmonton on Tuesday. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Former Alberta Party candidates from Red Deer, Central Alberta react to new party leader

There’s mixed reaction from Alberta Party supporters to the new leader in Central Alberta.

Stephen Mandel was elected leader of the Alberta Party Tuesday, receiving 66 per cent of the vote.

The leadership contest came after Greg Clark stepped down as party leader in November 2017. At the start of the race, the Alberta Party had 1,024 members and now has more than 6,500.

Serge Gingras, who ran twice as the Alberta Party candidate in Red Deer-South, said he believed the party may take a step to the right wing with the election of Mandel.

“It’s going to be interesting what the next steps are,” said Gingras. “I believe there will be a shift to the right given his history.”

Mandel served as health minister under Jim Prentice from the fall of 2014 until the spring 2015 election, where he lost his seat.

Before then he served three terms as mayor of Edmonton.

“I hope there’s still a strong enough grassroots movement that wants to maintain the centrist position of the party,” said Gingras. “It was created by people who saw the direction the former Progressive Conservative party was taking a shift to the right and they wanted a more centrist position.”

Danielle Klooster, who ran as the Alberta Party candidate in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake in 2012 and 2015, said the party needs an experienced, seasoned leader to build the party’s machine. She said was a PC before joining the Alberta Party.

“As an early adopter of the Alberta Party, I’m thrilled to see so many Albertans catching the vision,” she wrote in an email. “The people of Alberta no longer have to choose between one polarity or the other; the voice of reason is being heard and appreciated.”

She said the party has always welcomed people from across the political spectrum, including former New Democrats, Greens, Liberals, PCs and Wildrose party members.

“Mandel’s former party affiliation doesn’t concern me any more than my own,” she said. “We all left those former parties for a reason.”

They currently have three seats in the Alberta legislature including Clark, Karen McPherson and Rick Fraser. McPherson ran as an NDP, but cross the floor to join the Alberta Party in October 2017. Fraser won election as a PC, but joined the Alberta Party in late 2017.

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