Nate Horner, UCP candidate for the Drumheller-Stettler riding, triumphed in Tuesday’s provincial election, defeating incumbent Rick Strankman by an extremely wide margin.
“I’m kind of humbled and just honoured – it’s been a lot of work and I’ve met so many great people,” said Horner from Hanna where he was watching the incoming results with supporters. “It hits you when you see it on the TV screen there – I’m grateful and thankful. I think we have a good message and a great team and I’m just honoured to see the support that we are receiving tonight.”
Horner decidedly edged out Strankman, who was sitting as an independent. Strankman was first elected in the riding in 2012 under the Wildrose party banner, later opting for independent status. With 90 polls reporting, Horner had garnered 12,517 votes. Strankman, his nearest competitor, had landed 1,420.
“What I always thought resonated with people was when you went and made the miles and asked them what their issues were first, before you told them what was important to you,” explained Horner.
“In a riding like this, which is this big, I don’t think you can afford to just carry your flag. You need to get in there and know their issues so that when you do get an opportunity, you can facilitate a solution somehow,” he said.
“That was kind of the approach I took in the nomination, and it seemed to serve me well,” he said.
Drumheller-Stettler covers a large rural portion of central east Alberta, including the municipalities of Cereal, Consort, Hanna, Oyen and Youngstown.
Rounding out the remaining candidates in Drumheller-Stettler were Holly Heffernan for the NDP, Jason Hushagen for the Alberta Independence Party, Greg Herzog of the Alberta Advantage Party and Alberta Party candidate Mark Nikota.
Looking ahead, Horner said that UCP leader Jason Kenney has said he wishes to have the new MLAs sworn in as quickly as possible.
“He has said the carbon tax will be repealed by May 30th,” said Horner. “We need to get started. He’s called it the summer of repeals,” he added.
“There is going to be a lot of action, and it should be a great way to get one’s feet wet and learn on this first sitting,” he said, adding that the Drumheller-Stettler riding has seen one of the highest unemployment rates in the province of late.
“We need also to get Alberta going again, and that will get Drumheller-Stettler going again,” he said.
Horner is a rancher from Pollockville, south of Hanna.
According to his bio, after attending the local high school, he earned a AgBusiness Diploma from Olds College and later a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from the University of Lethbridge.
“My goal is to help Jason Kenney and the UCP make Alberta once again the most competitive jurisdiction in North America, make government smaller, massively decrease our regulatory burden and stand up for ourselves and our industries,” he noted on Facebook.
Meanwhile, although final numbers in terms of voter turnout won’t be available for a few days, in the 2015 election, with 89 polls reporting there was ultimately a turnout of 59.3 per cent.
“I’ve been excited about the leadership and the team,” he said. “It’s a very deep and thoughtful team that was put together to be prepared to lead and govern.
“I’m honoured to be part of that, and throughout this process, I’m proud to say that our team in Drumheller-Stettler is also (strong), full of excellent, respected people from all corners. I’m surrounded by great people.”
For Strankman, the loss marks a new chapter in his life. But he’s not done with being involved in community life and standing up for the issues he believes in.
“Nothing has changed for me – entrenching property rights for one thing is imperative to the area,” he said. “I’ll still be around fighting for property rights,” he said. “It’s intrinsic, it’s in my blood.
“There needs to be that economic development there,” he said, adding that he was pleased to see the conservatives in power.”I’ve always been a ‘cup is half full’ kind of guy, so we will just continue on.
“I’ve got good health, I’ve got family and good support. We will continue on.”