Voters dealt the ruling Progressive Conservative government a knockout in Central Alberta, shutting them out of all seven local MLA seats.
NDP candidates were elected in Red Deer North and South ridings as part of a historic New Democrat sweep to provincial power. It is the first time NDP candidates have been elected in Red Deer. Since 1971, Red Deer has elected only PC MLAs.
Wildrose candidates were elected in all five rural Central Alberta ridings, a repeat of the last election.
Two relatively unknown NDP candidates — Kim Schreiner in Red Deer North and Barb Miller in Red Deer South — beat Tory newcomers Christine Moore and Darcy Mykytyshyn. Indeed, Moore placed third in Red Deer North behind Buck Buchanan (Wildrose).
The Red Deer ridings had been vacated by retiring Tory MLAs Mary Anne Jablonski and Cal Dallas. It was an eight-way race in Red Deer South and a five-candidate race in Red Deer North.
When Schreiner was declared winner in Red Deer North, her supporters chanted “NDP, NDP.” Schreiner said it was the news Albertans were waiting for.
Miller said people wanted change and they got change. But even she was surprised by the margin of NDP victory.
“When I was knocking on doors, probably about 80 per cent of the doors I hit, people were so angry they said ‘Anything but PC.’ There was no way to know where that vote was going to go,” said Red Deer South Wildrose candidate Norman Wiebe, who finished third in his riding.
“There was a lot of animosity toward the PCs,” he said.
In Central Alberta, the most dramatic loss was in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake where Kerry Towle lost her seat to Wildrose candidate Don MacIntyre by more than 2,500 votes. Towle had been elected as a Wildrose MLA last election but crossed the floor to join the PCs last year.
MacIntyre said voters in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake wanted to bring back integrity saying many felt betrayed when Towle crossed the floor to join PCs.
“There’s a clear message from Albertans,” said Towle. “They don’t want the entitlements. They don’t want the corruption from any party and they want health care fixed and they want certain issues dealt with.
“Mr. MacIntyre didn’t win. He won by default for our mistakes. I get that. I own that.”
However, MacIntyre was just one of the local Wildrose MLAs who said the NDP government will be a disaster. That viewpoint was shared by former Red Deer North MLA Jablonski who said: “I totally fear for the future of Alberta.”
Also losing his seats on Tuesday was MLA Joe Anglin in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.
Jason Nixon bested Anglin by more than 4,000 votes. Anglin finished dead last in a four-way race. Anglin was elected as a Wildrose MLA in the last election, but he left the party to run as an Independent.
Wildrose incumbent Rick Strankman beat PC Jack Hayden in Drumheller-Stettler by more than 2,000 votes.
The most decisive victory in Central Alberta was Olds-Didsbury-Sundre, where Nathan Cooper beat his closest competitor (PC Wade Bearchell) by 5,000 votes. Cooper garnered more votes than his three competitors.
In Lacombe-Ponoka, Ron Orr (Wildrose) was elected MLA, besting Doug Hart (NDP) and two other candidates. Tory newcomer Peter DeWit came third in that riding.