Morinville – Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC members gathered in voting booths throughout the region Jan. 28 to elect their candidate to replace long-serving MLA Ken Kowalski. That victor was Westlock County Deputy Reeve Maureen Kubinec.
Kubinec said heading into Saturday’s vote she was cautiously optimistic about her chances, but delighted and somewhat surprised when her win was announced. “When the field is that big you really don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” she said. Kubinec was in competition with Tim Schultz, Bert Seatter, David Truckey, and Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi.
But now that she has been selected as the constituency association’s candidate, Kubinec said she is going to do her best to represent the region as her predecessor did, should she win the spring election and be sent to the Legislature as MLA.
“He’s done an amazing job for 33 years of representing this area, and just taking a look at his website you’ll see what some of his principles are,” the new candidate said of Kowalski. “They’re very sound principles and so I would just want to continue to provide the dedication he has, and try to take people’s issues forward. I’ve said a couple times two of the things I want to take to the table are honesty and common sense.”
Kubinec’s desire to serve Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock as the constituency’s next MLA does not come without experience.
She and her family moved to Westlock County from the Three Hills area two decades ago and took up farming – cattle and grain. Today the family still farms grain. Her experience in public services dates back to the Three Hills days when she served as a school trustee for six years, serving as board chair for half that time. Three years after moving to Westlock County, Kubinec once again ran for school board trustee in her new home. From that position she went on to become involved in the Alberta School Boards Association, eventually rising to president of the association in 2004. She left the position three years later at the end of her term.
“Those are term specific, so at the end of 2007 I was finished with the presidency and decided that would be a good time to resign the trusteeship as well,” she said, adding her youngest son had finished high school at that time.
Following her time on the school board and school board association, Kubinec became involved with the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDBA) board of the northeast region, a position she has held for almost four years.
In 2010 Kubinec was encouraged to run in Westlock County and has been the Deputy Reeve since that time.
Ready to tackle issues
The PC candidate said she feels her past experience will give her the tools needed going forward. “I think the broad experience I’ve had at the school level and now at the County level will let me go over there with some experience of what governance looks like, but also with what some of the issue are in municipal government and in school boards, the two big parts of our Alberta fabric,” Kubinec said. “I’m hoping that will stand me in good stead.”
One of the issues facing the province is in the area of health care. “Public health care is always an issue that’s at the front of people’s minds,” Kubinec said. “We have a good system but there’s various outlets that need to be corrected where there’s bottle necks.” The politician said in the area of trauma care she believes it doesn’t get better than what Alberta currently has; however, other areas need improvement. “Primary care is a different story and there are bottle necks that need to be addressed. It’s not going to be one grand solution; it’s going to be multi-faceted and looking at the areas that need to be fixed. That’s going to take some work and I think the PC government is dedicated to do that.”
With respect to education, Kubinec said one of the issues facing the region is declining enrollment in the northern part of the constituency. “We want to make sure that all children have an equally fair shot at getting to a school on not too long a bus time, and having a good shot at an excellent education,” Kubinec said. “We have to be cognisant of those issues.”
Additionally, Kubinec said it is important to make sure the province’s education system is well funded but that money in the system is used wisely.
It’s about change
When the election writ is dropped sometime in the coming weeks, Kubinec will square off against Wildrose candidate and former Alberta Report publisher Link Byfield, and NDP candidate Trudy Grebenstein. Like her optimism for her candidacy win, Kubinec is confident in her party’s win in the constituency.
The candidate said Albertans have indicated they want some change and that she feels the PCs can offer that change, particularly with a new party leader and some 20 candidates, who have said they will not run again, being replaced with new candidates. “It’s really rejuvenated the party,” Kubinec said. “I’m optimistic the PC Party will do well by showing Albertans we can adapt to the changes they see as necessary.”