Gordon Dirks, elected as MLA for Calgary Elbow on Oct. 27, says he drew up his to-do list for his time in office by knocking on 15,000 doors in his constituency.
“In this riding the four priorities that kept on coming up over and over are flood mitigation, high-quality education, responding to our health care needs, in particular, our seniors and long term care beds, and ensuring that we have market access for our energy resources,” Dirks said on election night, after claiming victory over four other candidates.
Dirks, who won by almost 800 votes over his closest opponent, was made minister of education on Sept. 15, and is now the MLA for the Calgary Elbow riding, previously held by Alison Redford.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, who arrived at Dirks’ victory celebration after winning his own seat in Calgary Foothills, spoke to the gathered supporters about Dirks’ hard work in the campaign, claiming Dirks had visited 15,000 homes in his riding, to Prentice’s own 6,000.
“I was invited down to Calgary Elbow to come door knocking, and they said bring your running shoes,” Prentice said to the crowd.
“So I got down, and we weren’t door knocking, we were door running.”
The byelections, in Elbow, Foothills, Calgary West and Edmonton Whitemud, saw four Progressive Conservative victories, a result many didn’t see coming.
“I’m not sure anybody anticipated that,” said Dirks.
Although Dirks has set his focus on four top priorities for his riding, he has a separate list of objectives when it comes to his position as the province’s minister of education.
Building schools, improving the curriculum, and focusing on hiring quality teachers are three of Dirks’ goals as minister.
“We need to do everything we can to enhance teaching excellence in the province.”
Asked about the issue of lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered (LGBT) rights within schools in Alberta, the new MLA expressed his desire to focus on the rights of his constituents.
“We want to ensure that we are balancing and protecting the rights of all students, of all parents, of all school boards in our province.”
Dirks, who calls this campaign his tenth, attributed his success to the hard work of his volunteers.
“There’s a great sense of positive relief that the campaign’s over,” said Dirks.
“This was a very challenging campaign. I worked very, very, very hard.”
Full unofficial election results can be found on the Elections Alberta website.