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Decision day

You might question which road politics has taken in this province when behaving well is cause for celebration.

But here we are, days away from a provincial election, and the most striking thing about St. Albert’s slate of options is how they comport themselves.

Take, for instance, the two forums held this past week in Cardiff for Morinville-St. Albert candidates and here in the city for St. Albert candidates. All candidates, except for Morinville-St. Albert's Alberta Advantage Party candidate Tamara Krywiak, paid residents the respect of attending, behaved well toward each other and seemed to give thoughtful answers to questions.

The no-shows that have dotted other provincial ridings, so-called “bozo eruptions” and mudslinging failed to crop up here in St. Albert.

Heck, it’s almost been boring.

Of course, we have the NDP’s Natalie Birnie in Morinville-St. Albert, who told residents Tuesday night not to “fret about $95 billion worth of debt.”

And we have the UCP’s Dale Nally in that same riding, who painted a doom-and-gloom picture of Alberta’s situation and referenced a provincial “death spiral.”

That's not to mention the apology St. Albert’s NDP candidate, Marie Renaud, issued this past week after an offensive social media post from 2014 came to light.

But despite having no shortage of opportunities for parties to take shots at each other, our local candidates have managed to rise above the fray, and that has helped the campaign period to focus on issues instead of people.

That ultimately does a service to residents, who appear to be engaged on a level seldom seen before.

Elections Alberta figures show about 403,000 people voted early in the first three days of advance polls – 140,000 on Tuesday, 136,000 on Wednesday and 127,000 on Thursday. That is a significant jump compared to 2015, when 162,000 Albertans turned out on the first three days of advance polling.

That level of engagement is exciting to see in a province that has historically struggled to get voters out to the polls, and that just over a decade ago saw the lowest voter turnout in Alberta history. Clearly voters know how important this election is.

City residents are no exception, flocking to polling stations, including the returning office in St. Albert Centre, to vote before polls open April 16.

Around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, there was a steady stream of voters through the doors, including 66-year-old Mary Rickert.

“I’m so happy to see this much interest in an important election. It’s important to have your say, make your voice heard. All these people here right now, they’re doing just that and it’s wonderful. Couldn’t be happier.”

The clock is ticking on advance polls and election day is just around the corner. For those still struggling to wrap their heads around the many issues at the forefront of this election, it is worth talking to your friends, family and local candidates about the most foundational issue of all: Alberta's economy. What does a province, which has historically relied on oil, gas and pipelines, need to do to get back on its feet?

An ailing economy affects everyone, rich or poor, young and old, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum. Thousands of people are hurting every day from our economic downturn. The next government will need to be one that can fix that.

Editorials are the consensus view of the St. Albert Gazette’s editorial board.