Livingstone-Macleod on Monday elected its first Wildrose MLA.
Pat Stier heads to Edmonton as the riding’s new MLA after knocking off incumbent Evan Berger and three others Monday.
Stier is one of 17 Wildrose candidates, including leader Danielle Smith, who will form the Official Opposition.
It’s a role Stier, a De Winton-area businessman, is ready to take on.
“I certainly am,” Stier said Monday night while ballots were still being counted. “I think it’s time Alberta had a good opposition.”
On Monday night the Progressive Conservatives unofficially elected 61 candidates to form their 12th straight majority government since first being elected in 1971.
“Albertans wanted change,” Premier Alison Redford said Monday night. “They wanted positive change. They wanted change that moves Alberta forward.”
Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience said the election was more competitive than people in the riding are used to, and that he was pleased the Progressive Conservatives had won a majority government.
“The premier and I have spoken on several occasions and I am certainly looking forward to working with her and the government to continue to move our community, region and province forward,” Patience said.
Patience complimented Berger on the work he on behalf of Livingstone-Macleod.
“Being an MLA is a challenging and often thankless position and (Berger) should be proud of what he was able to accomplish on behalf of his constituents,” Patience said. “We certainly wish him all the best.”
The Progressive Conservatives gained about 44 per cent of the vote province-wide, with Wildrose taking 35 per cent.
With 10 per cent of the vote the Liberals elected five candidates and the New Democrats four.
“It’s certainly a surprise,” Stier said of the results. “It’s not what we had hoped.”
Stier said his party, which at times during the campaign was predicted to form the government, likely suffered from voter indecision at the polls.
Stier said when it came time to cast their ballot, more Albertans found it harder to leave their Progressive Conservative roots behinds.
“When you have a party that is only 3 1/2 years old, it’s a little bit difficult for people,” Stier admitted.
Stier had received 8,565 votes while Berger, who in just his first term in the Legislature was named minister of agriculture, food and rural development, trailed with 7,403 votes.
New Democrat Matthew Halton received 944 votes to finish third in the Livingstone-Macleod riding.
Liberal Alex Macdonald placed fourth with 597 votes, followed by EverGreen Party of Alberta leader Larry Ashmore with 347.
In the 2008 election Berger won ins a landslide, gaining 6,037 votes or 64.2 per cent to outdistance Liberal Mike Judd, who received 1,534 votes
John W. McLeod of the Wildrose Alliance was third in 2008 with 988 votes, followed by New Democrat Phil Burpee with 476 and the Green Party’s Bryan Hunt with 371.
Stier said Monday the key to his victory was likely splitting the riding into three mini constituencies and organizing teams in each district.
“That was very effective,” Stier said.
Stier raved about the support he got from his campaign volunteers.
“We were all stressed and we were all multi-tasking,” Stier said of a campaign run on a shoestring budget. But we got through it.”
Stier found as he knocked on doors throughout Livingstone-Macleod that voters were ready for a change from Progressive Conservative rule.
“Without question,” Stier said. “We ran into that comment all the time.”
Stier was a councillor in the MD of Foothills and worked on election campaigns for others, including former Tory MLA George Groeneveld, but knows he has lots to learn as a rookie MLA.
“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves,” Stier said.
Fort Macleod is ready to work closely with its newest MLA.
“While he will certainly have his hands full with this now larger and even more diverse constituency, I know Pat will represent our interests well and I am looking forward to building a positive working relationship with him,” Patience said.