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HomeNewsMLA Wayne Drysdale won't seek re-election in 2019

MLA Wayne Drysdale won’t seek re-election in 2019

After 25 years representing the region, Wayne Drysdale is hanging up his suit. The Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA has confirmed he will not be running for re-election in 2019 after 10 years in the position, and 15 as a councillor for the MD of Greenview.

“It wasn’t an easy decision and it’s a little bit emotional for me, but it’s been a good 25 years,” he said Friday at his office in Grande Prairie. “People don’t get it, but it’s an honour to serve in that position and be out there and it will be the biggest highlight of my life.”

Drysdale is the longest serving member of the United Conservative Party caucus, while Transportation Minister Brian Mason is the longest serving of the legislature. Drysdale has been a long-time member of the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party, but says the recent merger with the Wildrose Party didn’t play a role in his decision not to run again.

“We’ve gone through a lot of changes; it hasn’t been easy, but quite frankly the last time when I ran I said I’ll run one more time, so that’s not the reason I’m doing this. It’s not the same as it used to be, but I think it’s going to get better again.”

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Looking back on his decade as MLA, Drysdale says he’s proud to have played a part in the construction of the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital, and is looking forward to its opening. As for any unfinished business, a new hospital for Beaverlodge is still on his mind.

“I’ve been working on that for 10 years and I wanted to see it done. I’m not giving up, and even in this last year I’ll still be pushing the minister… It’s unfortunate it took seven years to get it on the capital plan and now it’s disappeared.”

The twinning of Highway 40 is another project he’d hoped to see done in his time as MLA, but he credits the transportation minister with having approved the work needed to start construction.

Drysdale isn’t convinced he’s ready to fully retire, and says he’ll likely find some projects to keep him busy once he’s no longer in office. He has already told UCP leader Jason Kenney that this will be his last year with the party, and says he has full confidence that they will form the next Alberta government.

“Even though I wasn’t always his supporter, he’s treated me with nothing but respect and he’s deserved to be the leader and he’s proven himself pretty well.”

In a statement, Kenney commended Drysdale for reaching 10 years in office.

“He has been a steady voice of wisdom and experience in our caucus. I wish him and Sherry all good things after the next election.”

As for his replacement, Drysdale sees 2019 as the time for someone young to take on the heavy workload that comes with being a provincial representative. He says it was never about the paycheque for him, but instead helping his neighbours.

“To me it was all about the community of Grande Prairie. You need to really care about your community, and that’s your number one job,” he explains. “I definitely want to thank my constituents and people in the region for all the support I’ve been given over 25 years; I couldn’t do it without them.”

He adds that the shape of the constituency will be changing next year as much of the riding will be absorbed into Grande Prairie – Smoky, leaving the City of Grande Prairie as its own urban riding. More details on recruitment should be known after the UCP’s AGM in May.

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