The economic frustration spilling over in Red Deer-North has propelled United Conservative Party candidate Adriana LaGrange into the MLA seat.
“I am beyond thrilled,” said LaGrange of gaining more than half the total vote, and more than double the ballots cast for second place New Democrat incumbent Kim Schreiner.
LaGrange believes her party’s “message of hope,” that Alberta can return to better times, resonated with voters: “I knocked on more than 10,000 doors and the majority of folks were talking about the economy and wanting us to bring jobs back.”
LaGrange, who describes herself as a “woman of faith,” was particularly moved by one couple with five children who had just lost their home because the father had lost his job and “everything else just piled up.”
While LaGrange and her husband farm on the outskirts of Red Deer, she was also a Red Deer Catholic school board trustee for 11 years and served as provincial president of the trustee association, as well as national vice-president.
The mother of five grown children and three grandchildren looks forward to serving Red Deer-North constituents under party leader Jason Kenney and with the help of her “amazing team.”
One of LaGrange’s first orders of business, she said, will be to advocate for Red Deer Hospital’s needs.
Defeated incumbent Schreiner thought the race would be much closer, given how hard her party had been working for Albertans.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve done,” said Schreiner, who listed off projects the NDP approved in this city, including a new courthouse, a homeless shelter and university status for Red Deer College.
She believes her party’s loss after one term in government was largely due to bad timing — the Alberta economy started to nose-dive a year before the NDP won office in 2015 and hasn’t recovered, largely because of global energy market conditions, said Schreiner.
“I’ve never seen anyone fight as hard for pipelines as (Rachel Notley),” said Schreiner, who believes another month might have made a difference, as she believes work will soon begin on the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
Schreiner congratulated LaGrange on her win. But the former MLA, who previously worked as a health care aide, isn’t done fighting for Red Deer. Schneider said she will continue to be a vocal proponent for the hospital expansion.
Alberta Party candidate Paul Hardy came in third place in the Red Deer-North race , followed by Freedom Conservative Party candidate Matt Chapin and Michael Neufeld of the Alberta Independence Party.