By Collin Gallant
Alberta Newspaper group
Brooks resident and former Newell County councillor Mara Nesbitt has announced she will seek the United Conservative nomination in Brooks-Medicine Hat ahead of the 2023 election.
She will challenge sitting UCP MLA Michaela Frey when the nomination process opens, likely in the fall.
Nesbitt, 66, told the Medicine Hat News this week she is preparing a busy summer in her hometown of Brooks and in Medicine Hat to secure the right to represent the party, which she said has work to do to win back voters.
“There’s been some discord in the party and some discord in the province,” said Nesbitt.
“We’ve got to get back to what we’re there to do and that’s to get Alberta back to work.”
The riding is an urban-rural blend consisting of the County of Newell, northern portions of Cypress County, Brooks and areas of Medicine Hat that sit north of Third Street downtown.
Frey won the riding with 60 per cent of the votes cast in the 2019 election after she secured the nomination over two Brooks-based candidates, including Todd Beasely who was disqualified by the party.
Nesbitt, 66, is married to retired Brooks Bulletin newspaper owner Jon Nesbitt. The couple has four children and nine grandchildren.
She previously served as a county councillor for two terms and worked for 15 years in the Brooks-Strathmore MLA office, along with owning a small business and providing project support for the city of Brooks.
Nesbitt said her resume shows she is a “doer, not a talker,” and key issues for the province and especially the southeast are financial stability and economic diversification. That should be built off of oilfield and agri industries, and she backs new support for social services and government services like health and education.
“I really believe in the ability of people to do their jobs,” said Nesbitt. “We have amazing people and amazing municipalities. Let’s let them get to work.”
The eventual electoral race in the riding, set for May 2023, is starting to take shape.
Alberta Party Leader Barry Morishita (the former Brooks mayor) and New Democrat Gwen Dirk are already nominated to run in the riding for their respective parties.
The Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP riding association has announced it hopes to have a candidate selected by the end of the summer to replace independent MLA Drew Barnes, who ran and won as a UCP candidate in 2019. Nothing official has yet been filed with Elections Alberta regarding either riding.