File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, left, Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan, Alberta New Democrat Party Leader and incumbent Premier Rachel Notley and Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel greet each before the start of the 2019 Alberta Leaders Debate in Edmonton. Albertans go to the polls today.

Now, it’s up to the voters

Candidates from all political stripes relished the campaign experience

After an intense four weeks on the campaign trail, provincial election candidates become spectators Tuesday, their political fortunes now in the hands of voters.

On Monday, candidates were at restaurants and grocery stores to meet the public or making last-minute doorstep blitzes to deliver their final pitches to voters.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Red Deer-North Alberta Party candidate Paul Hardy. “I’m really pleased with the response to the hospital as a major issue.

“I have no regrets running and been happy to have done it, and I’m pleased with all the help I had.”

His last day on the election trail involved dropping off campaign literature, and he was planning to join Red Deer-South Alberta Party candidate Ryan Alaina McDougall at a local grocery store to shake a few more hands.

The message will be — as it has been throughout the campaign — that the Alberta Party is a “viable alternative,” he said. “We are not at either end of the extreme, and that we’re worth considering.

“This is the first year we’ve had 87 candidates. At the beginning of the campaign, many people hadn’t heard of us. Now, I think everybody has heard of us and many people have said they will support us.”

Red Deer-South NDP candidate Barb Miller headed to a lodge on Monday to chat with seniors and then worked the phones before heading out to do some more door knocking.

“As long as I get to talk to people, I’m happy,” she said, when asked if she was keeping track of the number of doors she had knocked on.

“I would door knock all day. That’s actually my favourite part of the campaign is to go door to door and talk to people. Unless you talk to them, you don’t know what they need, what their issues are.”

Miller said she has been hearing a lot of good things at the door. The NDP’s commitment to expanding the hospital has gone over well, as have other initiatives around prescription drugs, affordable housing and day care.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of positives. You hear the negatives, too, but I’m a person who likes to look at the glass half full, rather than half empty. That’s how I’ve dealt with all the turmoil with signs and everything.”

Lacombe-Ponoka United Conservative Party candidate Ron Orr started his Monday talking with voters at the A&W in Lacombe and he was making other stops in the afternoon.

Orr was optimistic with what he was hearing from the public.

“I think there’s a mood for change in the air,” he said.

“I feel fairly good.”

He was in Ponoka at a trade show on Friday and Saturday and met many voters.

“There were still a lot of people taking signs and there were a lot of people coming by and saying ‘we’re voting for you.’

“I think in this riding, things will be fairly predictable that way. Across the province, who knows.”

Edmonton and Calgary will be much-watched battlegrounds, and Orr believes the UCP has strong support, especially in Calgary.

There are no sure things in elections though.

“It’s hard to know how people will vote. Sometimes, people in public say one thing, but when it comes down to where they want to put their votes, it’s someplace else.”

Another wrinkle this time around, is that voters were allowed to vote outside their riding, but those ballots won’t be counted for a few days.

“For close races, it’s going to be impossible to really know (who won) because that out-of-riding vote.”

Michael Neufeld, who ran for the Freedom Conservative Party in Red Deer-North, spent some of Monday “catching his breath.

“On the last day, I drove around to make sure my signs were still up,” he said with a chuckle.

A first-time candidate, Neufeld said he relished the experience.

“It was fun and exciting and it was a new adventure,” he said. “It was fun getting up in front of the forums.”

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