Wood to challenge Towle for PC nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake

The mayor of Red Deer County wants to be the Progressive Conservative MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

The mayor of Red Deer County wants to be the Progressive Conservative MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

Jim Wood announced on Thursday that he will seek the PC nomination — something that sets him up against current MLA Kerry Towle, who crossed the floor from the Wildrose Party in late November to join the Jim Prentice government.

Towle confirmed on Thursday that she would be seeking the PC nomination so she could run again in the next provincial election.

Wood, 57, said he has been thinking about seeking the nomination for some time, before Towle crossed the floor.

He said that he has had a lot of people approach him and encourage him to run and he made up his mind just recently.

“I’ve been a strong PC my whole life … most of us would have been quite shocked if we had actually predicted what has happened over the last year,” he said, referring to recent changes and controversies in Alberta politics.

“Part of what I’m hearing is there is a huge betrayal being felt right now out in the community. People are not liking the floor-crossing.”

“I’m hearing Wildrose folks coming to me and saying ‘We’re supporting you,’ and strong support from the PC side. I don’t know where everyone’s at … I will try to make sure the wishes of the majority are heard.

“I don’t want to say negative against the other candidate. I would rather focus on my strengths,” Wood said.

He described himself as a strong family man, married 36 years with three grown children and eight grandchildren. He wants to see a good education system and more manufacturing in Alberta.

“It’s disappointing to see how the economy is affected by one commodity.”

He said the biggest struggle in deciding to seek the PC nomination is leaving the “very important job as mayor” that he has now.

At the same time, he believes the county is in good shape “because I have a great team to work with.”

Wood, first elected in 2004, served two terms as a councillor with Red Deer County, and is now in his second term as mayor.

He has checked with Alberta Municipal Affairs and he can continue in his role as mayor if he decides to until such time as he is elected as MLA. He hasn’t decided whether to take a leave of absence from mayor but he’s not required to.

“I believe we need a strong rural voice in Edmonton. I’m a farmer and my family has been farming for over 100 years.

“My experience as mayor will really help. … It’s not going to be an easy time coming forward, we’re looking into some tough decisions … I’m willing to do that.”

Wood and Towle are the only known candidates so far for the nomination. The PC nomination vote for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake takes place on Feb. 28.

barr@reddeeradvocate

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