Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney will not represent the Wildrose Alliance in the next election, after falling short in his bid to win the party’s nomination.
Rigney sought the Wildrose nomination for Athabasca-Redwater, but after the ballots were counted this past weekend lost to Athabasca-area farmer Travis Olson.
Rigney said he was happy to have competed in the race and believes the party has selected a strong candidate in Olson.
“Travis will do a great job. He is a young guy with a lot of energy and he has been working at it for a year and sold a lot of memberships.”
Rigney said he got into the race because he believes it’s time to change the government in Alberta and wanted to help make that happen.
“I couldn’t support and still can’t support the current government,” he said. “It is just not an acceptable government.”
Rigney’s concerns with the Progressive Conservatives include its creation of the Capital Region Board, the government’s land use plans, the centralization of health care and the proposed power lines running across the province.
The government has taken a they-know-best approach that ignores the wisdom Albertans possess in their communities,” he said.
“The fundamental problem with this government is they have centralized everything,” he said. “They think they can do everything and make all the decisions.”
Many people Rigney talked to during the three-week nomination contest expressed concerns that the government would retaliate against Sturgeon County for his political activities. If that were the case it would be further proof the government needed to change, he said.
“A lot of people came to me and said, we are worried about what you did because Sturgeon County will be punished, and I say, isn’t that your answer right there?”
Sturgeon Coun. Ken McGillis said the danger is when people are unable to distinguish between the county speaking and an individual.
“If it is construed as it is coming from Sturgeon County rather than from an individual, then it can be an issue.”
McGillis said the mayor’s decision to run was his own to make and he supports his right to make it.
“That is part of the political process in our province and our community and if people want to make a contribution they have to stick their neck out and run for these things and I am sure that is what he was doing.”
The race for the Wildrose seat also attracted Smoky Lake County Coun. Lori Danyluk and Thorhild social worker Lauri Genert.
Because of the size of the riding, party members voted in a mail-in ballot that was counted over the weekend. The party does not release vote totals in nomination contests, only the final result.