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Former city councillor Druh Farrell seeking NDP nomination in Calgary-Bow

Click to play video: 'Former Calgary councillor Druh Farrell seeking NDP nomination in Calgary-Bow' Former Calgary councillor Druh Farrell seeking NDP nomination in Calgary-Bow
WATCH: Former Calgary city councillor Druh Farrell is returning to political life and is seeking the NDP nomination in Calgary-Bow. As Adam MacVicar reports, it comes as both parties in the legislature begin preparing for the 2023 election. – Feb 21, 2022

Former Calgary city councillor Druh Farrell is returning to political life and will seek the nomination to run for Alberta’s NDP in the Calgary-Bow riding.

First elected in 2001, Farrell served as a city councillor for 20 years, representing Ward 7. Farrell announced last year she wouldn’t be running for a seventh term in the 2021 municipal election.

During her tenure as councillor, Farrell was a vocal advocate for the Peace Bridge across the Bow River, as well as affordable housing initiatives. She helped introduce blue cart recycling to the city and played a key role in addressing accessibility issues.

“I’m very pleased with the work that I did as a member of council and I was looking forward to retirement,” Farrell said in an interview with Global News. “But I can’t sit back and watch what’s happening to my province.”

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Read more: Ward 7 Calgary Coun. Druh Farrell not running for re-election in October

Farrell said she had “never been interested in party politics” and was approached by several political parties to run both federally and provincially during her time as a city councillor.

But upon some reflection during her short retirement, Farrell has chosen to seek the nomination to run as the NDP candidate in the 2023 provincial election.

When asked why she chose to run for the NDP, Farrell said she admired their approach to governance after working closely with the party when they were in government between 2015 and 2019.

“They want to invest in child care, and they want to invest in public education and public health care. They have ideas around a new economy, diversification, addressing the changes that are happening around the globe regarding the environment and finding opportunity,” Farrell said.

“I’m really impressed with with their work and their approach, and the fact that they care about people.”

Farrell said she believes her experience on city council can translate to issues at the provincial level, including affordable housing and initiatives to help revitalize Calgary’s downtown core.

The former councillor lost her mother during the COVID-19 pandemic, and said she also hopes to address issues in Alberta’s long-term care system.

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“I see the weaknesses in our long-term care, and we need to do so much in that area,” Farrell said. “So I could bring that experience in my knowledge of governance and political life.”

Read more: Calgary traffic almost at pre-pandemic levels; downtown traffic, parking, transit still down

It’s not the first time a former Calgary city councillor or alderman decided to make the jump to provincial politics.

Ric McIver, the current minister of municipal affairs in the United Conservative Party government, served on city council for 10 years prior to his move to provincial politics.

In 2019, former Ward 11 Coun. Brian Pincott also announced his intentions to run for the NDP, but withdrew his candidacy prior to the election. Joe Ceci has been an NDP MLA in Calgary since 2012, after serving 15 years on city council as an alderman for Ward 9.

Click to play video: 'Next mayors of Edmonton, Calgary celebrate historic election wins' Next mayors of Edmonton, Calgary celebrate historic election wins
Next mayors of Edmonton, Calgary celebrate historic election wins – Oct 19, 2021

According to Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, Farrell seeking the NDP nomination shows the party is making a push in Calgary ahead of next year’s election.

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“They’re able to attract these types of candidates that they may not have in the past. People now want to run and and we’re seeing very tough competitive nomination battles in Calgary,” Bratt said.

“The NDP just can’t win half the seats, they have to do very well in Calgary. So Calgary will decide the 2023 election.”

Bratt said Farrell fits well ideologically with the NDP, but also noted she was a “polarizing” figure on city council.

Throughout her career, Farrell’s stances on some issues like fluoride, the Peace Bridge and public art became a targets of negative advertising.

“Is this going to be a major UCP talking point in Calgary? I think it will,” Bratt said.

Read more: Calgary councillors call for a return of mandatory masking indoors amid rising case numbers

But Farrell is undeterred, and said she feels the next provincial election will be one about “the very soul of Alberta,” and how the province wants to be viewed by the rest of the country.

“Do we want to work with other provinces and other orders of government or we do we want to demonize them?” Farrell said. “I think this is a critical turning point for our province and this election will represent that… I can’t stand by and watch without getting involved in some way.”

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The riding is currently held by UCP Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides, who won in 2019 with nearly 56 per cent of the vote over former NDP MLA Deborah Drever.

A nomination date for the NDP in Calgary-Bow has not yet been scheduled.

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