A Parkland County farmer and rancher is running for the UCP nomination in a Sturgeon County provincial riding.
Leah Wood, who spent more than 20 years as a small business owner, is one of four candidates vying for the UCP nomination in the newly formed riding of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. The riding combines parts of four current ridings, including the west side of Sturgeon County.
Wood said she lives south of Entwistle in between two ridings and picked Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland because she understands the needs of rural communities. The mother of three and grandmother of one grew up in the Alberta Rockies, and currently farms and ranches on a 100-year-old ranch with her husband.
She began volunteering with the former Wildrose Party after the NDP government introduced Bill 6, a controversial piece of legislation that introduced new rules for farm and ranch workers.
Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean encouraged her to get involved, and she ran for the provincial Wildrose board, where she was elected to the executive.
"I was an asleep conservative, minding my own business and leaving (politics) to other people that knew more," Wood said of her time prior to Bill 6.
"The more and more I got involved, I realized . . . there was a voice missing at the table – and that was the small business owner, the farmer, people who weren't necessarily politically educated."
Once the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives began negotiating their merger, Wood was one of six Wildrose members who helped to form the UCP's board.
The experience, she said, was intense but rewarding.
"(I witnessed) people just putting blood, sweat and tears into something because it was what was best for Alberta."
One of the major issues Wood sees facing her riding is rural crime – and beyond that, rural safety, from health care to ambulances and fire response.
"All those emergency services, and being able to keep those facilities open to smaller communities – it takes somebody who understands that people are used to driving 45 minutes to the doctor, that if that's not there, then they're going to have to drive two hours," she said.
She is also concerned about the carbon tax and coal phase-out.
Wood said with her grandson watching, she thinks it is important for him to know the Alberta she knows.
"I think that policies affect people's everyday life, and I just want to preserve the Alberta that I hold dear," she said.
Wood is one of four candidates running for the UCP nomination in the riding of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. She is facing off against Everett Normandeau, Dale Johnson and Barbara Costache. A fifth nomination candidate, Jerry Molnar, has been disqualified.
For the Alberta Party, Don McCargar is the only candidate currently seeking nomination in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland.
In the Morinville-St. Albert riding, five candidates are vying for the UCP nomination, including Joe Gosselin, Donald Rigney, Amber Harris, Trina Jones and Dale Nally.
Shawna Gawreluck is the only NDP candidate seeking nomination in the same riding, although incumbents such as Trevor Horne from Spruce Grove-St. Albert have yet to declare which riding they will run in during the election.
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 next 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.