Ron Orr is hoping he’ll be on the ballot as the United Conservative Party’s official candidate for Lacombe-Ponoka come the 2019 election.
Elected as a member of the Wildrose Party in 2015, the incumbent MLA was the first to file nomination papers in the riding, and is looking to be first in votes when the nomination race closes.
He says his reasons for running again are much the same as why he got involved in politics in the first place.
“I was concerned about what was happening in our province with government. Things needed to be much better than they were and we’re still a long way from resolving many of the big issues,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot to offer and I shouldn’t just throw it away at this stage. My health is still good – I have no reason why I should quit.”
Orr was elected with a 5.61 per cent lead over New Democrat Doug Hart, and an 8.14 per cent lead over Progressive Conservative Peter DeWit. Since then, he believes he’s done a lot to fight for those in his riding, including being an advocate for better health care, rural policing, as well smoother and less regulatory processes for businesses.
Following Jason Kenney’s selection as leader of the UCP, he became Culture and Tourism critic, and lately has been focused on lobbying on behalf of the area’s outdoor enthusiasts regarding potential changes to the west country, which could prohibit their access.
As for what he hopes to achieve, should he not only be selected as the official UCP candidate, but re-elected as MLA, is better financial stability and economic outlook for the province.
“I’d like to see provincial revenues begin to increase so we can afford to offer public services and spend the money we need to,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot of investment, a lot of business resources and capable, talented tradespeople and business people. We need to invite them back and get the province working.
“When the province is working, there’s prosperity for families and government. It would be a huge goal for me to help re-establish that vital, vibrant atmosphere again.”
He said it’s also critical to keep a clear appreciation for the environment – clean air, land and water – as well as bring government back to keeping the people close at hand when making important decisions.
While he endorsed Brian Jean for leader of the party, he says he has faith the Kenney-led UCP will do just that.
“I think we’re a better party now than either of the two legacy parties were,” Orr said.
“I’ve been quite pleased in working with Jason Kenney – I think he actually does believe in working with the people. He managed to pull the two parties together at the caucus level into a harmonious team…He’s not the kind that’s all command and control – we sit around, we talk, and we work through (issues) together.”
But Orr isn’t alone in his bid to become the UCP candidate for the region, with Ponoka County’s Rita Reich also filing nomination papers.
With the PC’s and Wildrose legacy parties no longer in the mix, Orr says it’s to be expected.
“I think competition is healthy,” he said. “I think voters will make the right decision.”
He believes his experience will be appreciated by those in the riding.
“I’m running on my record,” he said. “What you see is what you get and what I’ve been is what I’ll continue to be.”
UCP nomination for the riding hasn’t formally been called, but Orr expects it to happen in the next week or so. Once it is called, there will be a two-week nomination period where others can also put their name in to run. After that, there will be a three-week campaign period where nominees will try and persuade UCP Party members they’re the best choice to represent the party, culminating with the vote for the candidate.
Similar processes will occur for other political parties, however, at present there have been no other nominations filed for the riding.