After wrapping up a 20-year career in the non-profit field, Parkland County resident Barb Costache has her eye on the UCP nomination in the newly formed riding of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland.
Costache is one of five candidates aiming for the nomination. Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland combines pieces of four current ridings, including the west side of Sturgeon County.
Costache, who lives in east Parkland County south of Big Lake, retired at the end of March after working for two decades for the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada, where she became the chief administrative officer of the Alberta/Northwest Territories branch. Before that, she worked for years for municipalities managing pools.
Now, the mother of three says the time is right for her to venture into the world of politics.
"I feel like I have been in training for politics all my life," she said.
Originally from Yellowknife before spending most of her life in Alberta, Costache describes herself as a "compassionate conservative": while fiscal accountability and transparency are at the top of her priority list, she also believes in helping vulnerable populations in a fiscally responsible way.
Addressing issues with the coal industry, rural crime and parental rights are also on her priority list.
Growing up in the booms and busts of Grande Prairie before moving to the capital region, Costache said she has also had a first-hand look at the downsides of Alberta's reliance on oil and gas.
"I watched people lose their jobs, their company and their money – and rebound – so this whole dependency on our oil and gas industry for a sustainable economy over the years, it's never worked," she said.
"How do we address that, as Albertans and elected officials, moving forward? Because our landscape and our economy has changed, and I don't believe it will ever go back to what it was before."
Setting the right direction for the UCP party moving forward is also important to Costache, who wants to engage voters and build the party's policies properly.
She said while door-knocking she has heard people want something different than the old PC or old Wildrose parties.
"I'm calling it the new conservatism. So what is that new conservatism going to be, moving forward?" she said.
Costache is facing off against Jerry Molnar, Everett Normandeau, Leah Wood and Dale Johnson for the Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland nomination.
Meanwhile, in the Morinville-St. Albert riding, five candidates are vying for the UCP nomination: Joe Gosselin, Donald Rigney, Amber Harris, Trina Jones and Dale Nally.
Shawna Gawreluck is the only NDP candidate currently seeking nomination in the same riding, although incumbents such as Trevor Horne from Spruce Grove-St. Albert have yet to declare in which riding they will seek nomination.
St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud is seeking the NDP nomination in the St. Albert riding.
Current Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken has secured the UCP nomination for the 2019 provincial election. Van Dijken is running in the Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock riding after the ridings were redrawn in 2017 and his current riding, Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, was divided.