The new entry in the Alberta political landscape now has a new leader after the Alberta Party picked Hinton Mayor Glenn Taylor on the first ballot Saturday.
Taylor thanked party members for their support after his first ballot win, but told them the next step would require heavy lifting.
“Today the work is truly beginning, to hit the next gear and the next phase of what we are doing to build a viable political option for this party,” he said to thunderous applause. “We are asking for you to find a reason to believe in Alberta again because this party believes in you.”
A total of 1,200 members cast ballots in a one-member, one-vote system. Taylor was the clear front runner with 665 votes, enough to give him 55 per cent of the vote and a first ballot victory.
His three challengers finished well back — Randy Royer garnered 287 votes, Lee Easton took 144 and Tammy Maloney netted 104 votes.
Party members cast their ballots online and over the phone, but many attended the Shaw Conference Centre to hear the results as part of the party's convention.
Acting leader Sue Huff was among the first to congratulate Taylor. Before the announcement of the results, she ended her reign with a song for the assembled party, with a rendition of Somewhere over the Rainbow, saying she felt it represented the spirit of the party. “We are a party of big, big dreamers, people who are not afraid to take risks and think outside the box.”
After his win, Taylor said the party would be ready to contest the next election. “We are not only going to have constituency associations in place, we are going to have viable candidates, representing the values of the Alberta Party and understanding the work that we have to do.”
The party has avoided traditional political labels and Taylor said he will continue the open, consultative approach they have used in the past.
“It is not about left and right unless you are talking about the need to leave old politics behind and do what is right for Albertans,” he said. “We are going to be defined by our practices and the policy that comes forward.”
Taylor said he will run in his home riding of West-Yellowhead and already has an election team on the ground.
Tim Osborne, vice-president of the Alberta Party’s St. Albert constituency association, said he was pleased with Taylor’s victory and believes he will be a good standard-bearer for the party in the next campaign.
“He will be a strong leader in that he brings a lot of experience to the table. He has been mayor of Hinton for a number of years and he knows how to run a successful campaign.”
The party's only MLA, former Alberta Liberal Dave Taylor admitted the party will have an uphill battle to win the support of the electorate. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, there is no question about that. Glenn Taylor is very well known in Hinton, but he is probably not all that well known in the rest of the province. We have to get him well known,” he said. “We have to become a household name sometime between now and the next election.”
He said the party will have to build an organization they can be proud of, not just one that can win. “We have to build this party right for the long term. We don't want the Alberta Party to be a flash in the pan.”
Dave Taylor also stressed the party would not wear an ideological label, but would focus on meeting needs. “We are all about Albertans, we are about finding out from Albertans what they need and finding ways to give it to them.”