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John Lehners seeking UCP nomination in new Grande Prairie riding

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The chair of a local school board wants to represent the United Conservative Party in the next provincial election. Grande Prairie Public School District’s John Lehners is one of two people so far seeking the party’s nomination in the new Grande Prairie riding.

Lehners has served on the school board for nearly 17 years, started up Design Works Engineering and Inspections in 2014, and sat on the board of directors for Alberta Health Services for five years before that. He says getting involved in provincial politics has been in the back of his mind for a long time.

“I do a lot of griping and analyzing of the situation in our provincial capital,” he explains. “I thought I would take all those years of experience in the community that I’ve built up, the people that I know, and turn that into something that’s real positive for our area.”

In particular, Lehners says he takes issue with the carbon tax and the province’s debt, which is forecast to hit $71.1 billion by 2019-20. If he were to be part of a governing party, he says he would want to bring the budget “under control” first.

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“That doesn’t happen overnight, and when you’re in that room and you’re able to make those decisions, it takes energy and enthusiasm to look at innovation and to try new things. We need to, as a government, create a vision and then we let the people do their thing.”

Lehners believes his extensive experience as a board member would be an asset as a politician, as he says it has helped him learn how to optimize spending. He also says its shown him the importance of making his voice heard.

“If someone doesn’t put their hand up and they’re not afraid and all they want to do is say, ‘yes, yes, yes,’ because they want to be liked or because it’s the easy thing to do, then you don’t always get the right result.”

He points to AHS discussions surrounding the future of STARS Air Ambulance in Grande Prairie, alleging at one point he was the lone dissenter to defunding the service.

The first UCP association meeting for the new urban Grande Prairie riding created by an electoral boundaries report last fall will be held in Grande Prairie on June 28th. Local Tim Horton’s franchise owner Tracy Allard is also seeking the UCP’s nomination.

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