St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron.
Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency
As the United Conservatives swept through much of rural and suburban Alberta, the NDP fought closer battles in a handful of communities ringing Edmonton.In St. Albert, the NDP’s Marie Renaud led the UCP’s Jeff Wedman by over 1,000 votes shortly before 10 p.m. Meanwhile, the UCP’s Dale Nally was poised to take Morinville-St. Albert over the NDP’s Natalie Birnie.The race remained tight between the NDP and UCP in Sherwood Park, but earlier close matches in Leduc-Beaumont and Stratchona-Sherwood Park saw the NDP fall well behind as the evening wore on.As the results rolled in, St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron was putting on her shoes to go out and make the rounds to different local campaign headquarters. Heron said she thinks communities in the greater Edmonton area are fairing better than some areas. “The entire region in general has not been hit as hard by the economic downturn, so there’s not as much of the anti-NDP sentiment up here in Edmonton as compared to Calgary,” Heron said when reached by phone for an interview.Heron, a vice president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), added that she thinks the NDP were collaborative and fair, and she thinks that worked in her favour in the Edmonton region.Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Al Kemmere said he believes early UCP leads in most rural ridings across the province reflect the tradition of rural Albertans settling back into a tradition of voting for the most fiscally conservative option.“I think now people are getting back to their roots and moving forward that way,” said Kemmere, who is also a councillor in Mountain View County.As the UCP took the lead across much of central and northern Alberta outside Edmonton, previous NDP cabinet ministers were among those likely to be unseated.In Leduc-Beaumont, Shaye Anderson — known for his distinctive beard — slipped behind the UCP’s Brad Rutherford.To the east, in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland, former agriculture minister Oneil Carlier was unseated by the UCP’s Shane Getson.Other rural areas that didn’t flip in the 2015 NDP “orange crush” posted strong results.Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul, the most populous riding in the province with 53,809 potential voters (based on a 2016 population count), saw UCP candidate David Hanson take a commanding lead.Up in Fort McMurray, the heart of the province’s oil and gas industry, both ridings went to the UCP, with the re-election of Tany Yao and Laila Goodridge.email@example.com/paigeeparsons