The Alberta Liberal Party officially opened the party’s leadership contest on Monday and already have one candidate in the race.
St. Albert Mayer Nolan Crouse is the first candidate to throw a hat in the ring for the position after announcing his intentions to run on Tuesday morning.
After the 2015 election, the Liberals found themselves with only one seat, held by current interim party leader from Calgary-Mountainview David Swann. Karen Sevcik, president of the Alberta Liberal Party, said she is optimistic that the party can rebuild in the province.
“The priority is to start rebuilding our constituency association, the grassroots that everybody always talks about, and getting prepared to have 87 candidates in the next general election,” Sevcik said.
The party selected a new executive in May 2016 and Sevcik said members such as St. Albert’s Dan MacLennan – who is vice-president of constituencies – are helping to breathe new life into the party.
The organization plans to have Swann hold on to the party’s only seat and the new leader will work outside the legislature until the next election.
Sevcik said having a leader outside the legislature is an advantage to the party as the leadership role will be divided.
“He or she would not necessarily be tied down to the legislative schedule,” Sevcik said. “David could do the work there and our leader could do the work that the party needed.”
Sevcik said the party plans to be flexible with the schedule and prior commitments of the newly elected leader. If the leader had prior commitments, such as being a municipal mayor, the party would be happy to work around the conflicting schedules.
Right now Sevcik estimated there are 2,000 to 3,000 members and has constituency associations in around half of the 87 provincial ridings. Most of the established organizations are based in urban areas.
Sevcik said the party has no intention to join forces with the centrist Alberta Party to attract more members, which was an idea floated by Laurie Blakeman during the last interim leadership race.
The party is using a week-long online voting system and the one member one vote system to elect the leader.
The leadership race runs until May and a new leader will be crowned on June 4, 2017.