Five candidates line up for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake
With the provincial election just around the corner, five Innisfail-Sylvan Lake candidates have announced their intentions to run.
Incumbent Progressive Conservative MLA Luke Ouellette was scheduled to open his campaign office on Saturday, and Wildrose Party candidate Kerry Towle opened her headquarters three weeks ago. In January, Les Vidok of Sylvan Lake announced his intention to run for the Liberals. Danielle Klooster, a current Penhold councillor, is running for the Alberta Party and Patricia Norman from Innisfail will run for the NDP.
All candidates said they are preparing for a “different” election from 2008, when 72 of the 83 PC candidates were elected, receiving 52.7 per cent of the vote. Nine Alberta Liberal Party candidates were elected and two NDP. And almost all of the candidates shared the same view on the need for urgent care in Sylvan Lake.
Luke Ouellette, 58, is serving his third consecutive term as MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and served as Minister of Restructuring and Government Efficiency before becoming the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, a portfolio he held from 2006 until 2011.
Ouellette said he’s ready for a “different election” from what he’s seen in the past.
In the riding in 2008 five parties ran as well – the PCs, NDP, Liberals, Wildrose Alliance, Green, and Independent. Ouellette received 62 per cent of the vote, the Liberals finishing second with 13.9 per cent.
“I think there’s going to be a lot more competition here and I think it’ll be very a interesting election,” he said of the coming campaign.
Ouellette’s focus for the area will be on roads, education and getting an urgent care centre to Sylvan Lake, he said.
“The new 791 that the county wants so bad, the new alignment from Aberdeen to Highway 42 is important to most of the county residents on that side,” he explained. “As well, the flyover at the Old Pole Road, I’m working on diligently to get that done to get our highway of course safer in that area.”
Ouellette said he is “working as hard as I can” getting an urgent care centre in Sylvan Lake to “take pressure off Red Deer and open it up.”
“I believe we are in for another growth spurt over time here in Alberta and I think now more than ever we need strong, experienced leadership and I want to be that for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.”
Wildrose’s Kerry Towle also expects this election to be different from those of the past.
“I think the first time in 40 years, really, when Albertans go to the polls, they have more than one option. … We need to show Albertans and people of this riding what we can do differently.”
The Wildrose pledge to offer free votes in the legislature is what drew her to get involved, Towle said. As part of the Wildrose campaign platform she said top concerns are on property rights and parents’ rights when it comes to their children’s education. Locally, she supports getting an urgent care centre in Sylvan Lake.
“We’re hearing many people concerned. Especially our rural landowners and farmers are barely making it as it is, and when they’re getting power bills that are $1,000 or $1500 a month it could be the make or break for them,” Towle said, expressing some of her concerns about the PCs’ property right bills.
Her campaign office opened on 49 Avenue in Innisfail on March 3 and will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. once the campaign officially kicks off.
The NDP’s Patricia Norman said she felt the riding needed a candidate and there wasn’t one, so she stepped forward.
Norman, who lives east of Innisfail, has been in the area for the last 20 years and works with people with developmental disabilities.
She said some of her top issues are landowner rights and providing change and fairness for all people.
“I’d like to see a shakeup of our Conservative government. I think it’s time we had some change ... I think we need some fresh ideas.”
In terms of getting an urgent care centre in Sylvan Lake, “that’s a really tough one,” she said.
“I don’t ever want to see facilities that aren’t being used and I don’t ever want to see people not able to get to facilities where they need care. Sylvan is a huge area now and it’s not that far from Red Deer, but Red Deer is growing so to have an urgent care facility in the areas that have a growing population rise is not a bad idea.”
Les Vidok, 59, of Sylvan Lake is running for the Liberals. An account representative with World Source Financial Management, and life-long PC supporter, Vidok made the switch to the Liberal Party “because it’s time for a change,” he said.
He also wants to push for an urgent care centre in Sylvan Lake. “There’s a big population base that increases in the summer, a lot of accidents happen and it would be great. It would take a lot of the pressure off the health-care system with emergencies and the Red Deer Hospital.”
He’s also focused on getting lights at the intersection of Highways 11 and 791.
“I know it’s been a real sore spot among citizens,” he said. The area has recently been closed off with plans for a proposed overpass at some time in the future. “But in the meantime it’s really frustrating getting entrances and exits in town.”
Vidok said the party isn’t looking to be an opposition but is ready to govern.
“I’m ready to go. I’m loading my guns and I’m ready to bolt out of the corral with my guns blazing.”
Vidok does not have an office but is using Twitter and Facebook as part of his campaign.
Alberta Party candidate Danielle Klooster, current town councillor for Penhold and manager of policy, advocacy and communications for the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, hopes to become an opposition MLA.
“Because of that I would have the ability to spend great amounts of time focusing on the constituency, working with communities and addressing their issues, working with individuals and addressing needs of their families.”
Klooster said there needs to be a focus in this riding not only on urgent care but long term as well.
“There are a lot of people expressing significant concerns in our riding we don’t have a hospital. We have the Innisfail hospital but we don’t have enough long-term care to have everyone living in their community or people are getting separated later in life. I know of people, one parent is in Ponoka living in long-term care and another parent is somewhere else, so they have to drive around Central Alberta to see their parents on a regular basis.”
Klooster said Alberta’s economic mindset has to change and not be dependent on what she calls the boom-bust cycle.
“I struggle to understand the rationale of thinking we should be delivering things like our education and health-care programs based on the price of a barrel of oil. As soon as the downturn comes, what happens? Frontline workers and education and health care all get chopped and we’re so accustomed to living this way it’s become so normalized.”
Klooster is actively Tweeting, blogging and posting on Facebook. Her resume can be viewed at DanielleKlooster.com.