Natalie Birnie is representing the NDP in the provincial riding of Morinville-St. Albert.
The Parkland County resident put her candidacy for the NDP forward in the fall but there were no ridings available for her to run in.
When former Morinville-St. Albert candidate Shawna Gawreluck dropped out the weekend before the writ dropped, Birnie got the call that there was finally a riding available for her.
“I'm really looking forward to this. I'm really excited. This is one of the most important elections in Alberta history. And given all the work that the NDP are doing, we're not done. Give them another four years,” Birnie said.
Birnie, who has been the executive director of the Acheson Business Association for nine years, said she was a card-carrying progressive conservative for 40 years. Birnie didn’t even vote for the NDP in the last election, and after the party won in 2015, she drove to work wondering if the sky was falling.
But slowly over the four years of working with the NDP at the Acheson Business Association, she was won over by the party.
“I was politically homeless, and it feels good to finally say, ‘I found a party,’ ” she said.
“(Premier Rachel Notley) is walking the talk. And it's such a refreshing change, after watching the PCs for all those years."
The candidate spent “years and years” in small business and has worked in manufacturing and retail. She has spent time as a single mom and also owned a clothing line.
Birnie said she is still getting to know the riding but said infrastructure needs, hospitals and healthcare are important to the residents.
“I know of course the economy and jobs are important to them, as it is with everybody, and the pipeline,” Birnie said.
Birnie is asking Albertans to give the NDP another four years, after giving the conservatives 44 years.
“I believe that we're still cleaning up that mess,” Birnie said.
Birnie is running against Dale Nally of the UCP, Neil Korotash of the Alberta Party, Cass Romyn of the Alberta Green Party and Mike van Velzen of the Alberta Independence Party.
Gawreluck dropped out of the race three days before Notley announced the election. Birnie announced her candidacy hours later.