A 29-year-old man with strong family roots in Cochrane is the first to put his name forward as the NDP candidate for the new Airdrie-Cochrane riding.
Steven Durrell, currently residing in Strathmore with his wife and three children, says he’s incredibly passionate about politics and the need to maintain and continue to improve services of the Alberta government.
He believes the Notley administration was left with the daunting challenge of catching up with standards already common in the rest of Canada.
“The biggest change I saw was the absolutely fantastic news of our changes and reforms in our labour laws that brought us in line with the rest of the country,” says Durrell. “We’ve been lagging behind so it was nice to see those changes.”
He believes the province shouldn’t take its foot off the pedal to ensure the well-being of Albertans.
“We need to continue to ensure that we have those strong labour rights in place and extend it even further to ensure the workers' health, both physically and mentally, are taken care of and watched both in and outside of the workplace.”
He fears government services could falter should another party, like the United Conservative Party, form the next government.
“We’ve heard numbers like 20 per cent cuts across the board. We can’t afford those cuts to maintain the service levels that we have today.”
His interest in politics dates back to when he attended Bow Valley High School.
“It’s something that evolved starting in high school and has become part of my life as I’ve grown older, particularly around the labour rights and human right and by watching how things have rapidly changed in the past 10-15 years in Alberta.”
Durrell is a Telus dispatcher and trustee for the Telus Corporation pension plan. He’s been active with the United Steel Workers (USW) both as a shop steward and as a member of a political action committee for USW Local 1944.
Despite residing in Strathmore for about two years, he considers Cochrane his home.
“My family lives there, it’s where I grew up, and it’s the people I know. It is still in every way, shape and form my home.”
He believes the needs of the riding are similar to those of all Albertans.
‘It’s important that we ensure we maintain the public programs that we enjoy across the province, but in particularly in Cochrane and Airdrie; things like our health care programs, our education programs and highway maintenance. We have that 1A interchange finally getting built. It’s been a pain for the town as long as I can remember.”
He believes the province must continue to strike out for the severely handicapped and disabled through such programs as Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).
“I feel like those are programs and issues that we across the province and Cochrane and Airdrie can’t afford to lose. We need to make sure that those are at least maintained at their current level of service if not improved further.”
Durrell was a highly-active volunteer in the 2014 provincial election and has since managed a byelection campaign for the NDP, served as a convention delegate and is a member of the party’s provincial council.
“I’ve reached the point where I feel can contribute more by running than by volunteering in those capacities.”
Durrell will soon be unfolding his campaign for the nomination that will include door knocking and meet and greets. He not aware of any other candidate for the nomination at this time but doesn’t discourage them from stepping forward.
Although a firm date for the nomination meeting hasn’t been set it be held in Cochrane in January.
Should he be successful in his bid for the nomination he says his team is ready.
“It’s a good group of people that we have together. We have a lot of connections and people who are willing to help and who have been getting in contact with us wanting to get out and door knock and make calls for us. I anticipate a very strong campaign.”
Durrell can be reached at 403-804-9872 or [email protected]
Westhead Secures Banff-Kananaskis Nomination
With changes to electoral boundaries Cam Westhead, the current Banff-Cochrane MLA, will be running n the newly formed Banff-Kananaskis constituency.
The Bragg Creek resident recently won by NDP nomination there by acclamation.
The new riding falls outside of the Cochrane town limits but includes areas, west, north and south of town, including Bragg Creek, the Ghost Valley and the Stoney-Nakoda Nation.