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Reich to challenge Orr for Lacombe-Ponoka UCP nomination

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

Rita Reich, who’s lived in the Lacombe-Ponoka area her entire life, has put her name in to the UCP nomination race for the riding, challenging incumbent MLA Ron Orr. (Photo supplied)

Rita Reich, who’s lived in the Lacombe-Ponoka area her entire life, has put her name in to the UCP nomination race for the riding, challenging incumbent MLA Ron Orr. (Photo supplied)

There will be a United Conservative Party (UCP) nomination race in the Lacombe-Ponoka riding.

Rita Reich, of Ponoka County, will look to challenge incumbent Ron Orr to become the UCP’s official candidate heading into the 2019 provincial election.

Active in the political sphere, including involvement with the Wildrose Party, Reich says her interest in politics has morphed into a desire to do more, thanks in part to UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

“When Jason Kenney came to Alberta, I believe he brought a message of hope moving forward,” she said.

“I supported the reunification of the conservative movement under (Kenney) and I know he’s the kind of leader who will protect Alberta’s liberty and that’s what we’re really looking for.”

Reich has had the opportunity to get to know the UCP leader on a few occasions, hosting him at her farm east of Ponoka twice, including once during his unity tour and again when he was vying for leadership.

Like Kenney, she believes the rise of the NDP was a failure of political leadership and says it’s crucial to bring back the Alberta advantage, and return the province to being the economic engine of the country. To do that, she says, there needs to be a reduction in government, particularly when it comes to small business and the private sector.

“I’ve always been a small-c conservative. Government has to be committed to being as efficient and as unobtrusive as possible,” she said. “We want the basics. We want less red tape in government and balanced budgets. We need to bring back the Alberta Advantage and I believe I can help Jason do that.”

While she hasn’t personally run for politics herself – that’s something she’s only recently felt comfortable doing – her father was a member of Ponoka County council, and she’s part of MP Blaine Calkins’ Electoral District Association which meets in Lacombe regularly.

Outside of politics, she’s involved in the agricultural sector in the cattle business. The family farm has seen three generations now, all within the riding.

“My family has deep roots in the community,” she said. “I understand the people who have lived and worked here for generations. I’m committed to representing my friends, family and neighbours as a true conservative.”

While Orr is the current UCP MLA for the riding, Reich says it wasn’t dissatisfaction with representation that spurred her to run.

“I’ve known Ron for a lot of years. I’ve worked with him and I get along with him well,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of competition. I’m providing another option and I think I’m a strong option.”

Orr is already registered with Elections Alberta to run again. He was first elected in 2015, succeeding Rod Fox who crossed the floor from the Wildrose Party to the Progressive Conservatives in 2014.

The NDP, Alberta Party, and Liberal Party have not yet registered a candidate or nominees in the riding as of yet. Doug Hart ran for the NDP in 2015 and secured 5,481 votes (30.10 per cent), behind Orr’s 6,502 (35.71 per cent). Tony Jeglum ran for the Alberta Party, earning 1,205 (6.62 per cent) of votes. 



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