Adriana LaGrange, UCP incumbent for Red Deer-North, credits appreciative Red Deerians for allowing her to keep her seat in Monday’s election.
“People know we have been working very hard,” said LaGrange, bringing a therapeutic addictions recovery centre to the city, as well as a new justice centre, and plans for a Red Deer hospital expansion by 2032.
“I feel very positive,” she added, after knocking on some 15,000 doors and having some “good conversations” with Red Deerians.
LaGrange said she had to correct some “misinformation” when some people questioned whether the hospital expansion was going ahead: “I told them we have the design firm chosen.” She also heard seniors expressing concern about their pensions being switched to provincial instead of a federal program.“But I told them that wouldn’t happen without a referendum.”
The Ontario native who moved to Red Deer more than 40 years ago, was first elected MLA for Red Deer North in 2019 winning her constituency with a total of 12,739 votes based on a 62.6% voter turnout.
Monday’s election had a slightly tighter margin. LaGrange was won by 10,594 votes, compared to her nearest competitor, NDP candidate Jaelene Tweedle’s 7,132 votes (according to the unofficial count).
Within weeks of being first elected, LaGrange was appointed Minister of Education by former UCP premier Jason Kenny. But her time as a minister was not without controversy. LaGrange came under fire when critics blamed her for weakening provisions around school gay-straight alliances, and introducing an elementary school curriculum that they felt was disconnected from research and rife with white European perspectives.
LaGrange said the curriculum wasn’t brought up much during the campaigning — but affordability was. Many Red Deerians objected to paying more for a federally imposed carbon tax, she explained, but appreciated the $100 per child per month that eligible families received over six months from the UCP government to help cover costs.
LaGrange, who previously served as a trustee on the Red Deer Catholic School board and a former president of Red-Deer pro-life, is a married mother of seven grown children.
LaGrange said she wants to assure constituents the hospital and health care staffing would continue to be top priorities. “It will be an honour,” she said, to continue working hard to represent the community in caucus, and hopefully in the next cabinet. LaGrange also thanked competing candidates for helping exercise democracy.
NDP candidate for Red Deer-North, Jaelene Tweedle, who trailed LaGrange in second place for most of the evening, declined to comment on the early election results.
Tweedle ran this election on a campaign of being dedicated to improving children’s education. The former administrative worker in the oilfield has been volunteering her time at local schools to help children “Put their best foot forward.” The married mother of three children moved to Red Deer from Devon in 2008.
The other Red Deer-North candidates are Heather Morigeau with the Green Party of Alberta, Kallie Dyck with the Solidarity Movement of Alberta, and Vicky Bayford with the Independence Party of Alberta.