It’s official: Ken Kowalski intends to seek his 10th mandate as MLA for the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock constituency.
He made the announcement Sunday evening at the Barrhead Golf Club. He was scheduled to make the announcement just past 5 p.m., but shared his intentions with the Westlock News prior to our 5 p.m. print deadline.
“I intend to seek the nomination for the PC Association of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock and I intend to be a candidate in the next provincial election,” he said in a phone interview.
Kowalski’s decision comes after months of speculation about his future, which he said several months ago would hinge on several factors, not the least of which was his wife’s health.
“We received very positive reports in the early part of August,” he said. “She’s improving very significantly, the cancer seems to be in check, and she’s getting stronger as each day goes by.
“That was the main concern.”
Other considerations included his own health, which he said is good, and whether or not he felt he was ready to retire. After consideration, he decided he was not.
“Virtually everybody I talked to said, ‘You will know when you’re ready.’ I couldn’t come to that conclusion, so I’m obviously not ready,” he said. “I’m doing it again.”
One thing that didn’t factor into Kowalski’s decision, he added, was the fact that there are some new political parties on the scene.
“I have gone through nine elections, and I focus on who I am. I focus on the party that I am with. I focus on the organization I am a part of and the people I am associated with,” he said. “I don’t give much consideration to who may, or may not, be running against me.”
If he wins the nomination, he said his first priority will be to represent the people of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, and the second priority will be to help his party form government.
“I think we’ve done a very good job. We will have a new leader by the time we have another provincial election,” he said. “We’ll focus on the values we have and the principles we have, based on the premise that our No. 1 responsibility is to serve the people of the province of Alberta.”
Kowalski has served as MLA since 1979, when he won a by-election in what was then the Barrhead constituency. He held his seat through nine elections, first in Barrhead, then when the name changed to Barrhead-Westlock and finally Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock.
He has held five cabinet portfolios during that time, including that of deputy premier, and has been Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for more than 14 years.