The three candidates hoping to replace Alison Redford as Alberta's next premier are welcoming her decision to leave politics.

Redford resigned as the member of the legislature for Calgary-Elbow early Wednesday morning.

"In hindsight, there were many things I would have done differently," she wrote in an editorial letter announcing her resignation. "That said, I accept responsibility for all the decisions I have made.”

She stepped down as premier in March after questions over her travel expenses. Dave Hancock, who has been serving as premier since then, is also calling on the RCMP to investigate her use of government airplanes

Jim Prentice, Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk have been campaigning for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party since June.

​Lukaszuk said the allegations against Redford have been distracting and public trust in the party was deteriorating.

"When the actions of one MLA or one office cast a shadow on the entire caucus, cabinet, government and, frankly, on all politicians, it changes the conversation from a constructive one about our aspirations and goals as Albertans to one of skepticism and sort of focusing on the negative front-page story," he said.

Earlier this week, Lukaszuk called on PC members of the legislature to hold an emergency meeting to discuss ousting Redford from caucus.

But Lukaszuk said Wednesday that he and caucus members had no insider information and learned about Redford's revelations through the news.

Difficult but necessary, says candidate

McIver called Redford's resignation difficult but necessary.

"We'll move forward, but we will not ignore the lessons of the past," he said. "Those that say ignore the past are doomed to repeat those mistakes. 

"I will create a new culture, one where Albertans are at the top of the consideration chain and where government is a servant to those Albertans."

Prentice hopes the party can finally turn the page on the spending scandals that forced Redford from office.  

"There's a certain amount of restoration of public trust that has to happen — but really Albertans are very optimistic, forward looking people." 

CBC News has confirmed Prentice will not run in Redford’s riding when a byelection is called. 

"I think that Alison Redford did the right thing by resigning as a member of the legislative assembly," said Prentice. "I think she did the honourable thing and you know, from my perspective, I would simply wish her and her family well as she moves forward with the next chapter of her life."

Constituents mixed on resignation

People at a park in the heart of Calgary-Elbow offered a range of opinions about the riding's MLA stepping down.

Linda Flock said Redford fell on her own sword.

"She didn't handle it well," she said. "I thought, from what I understand, was that she was quite arrogant."

Jessica Mossiere was not surprised the former premier quit, but argued Redford did not receive a fair shake.

"I think if she was a man, it would have played out completely differently," she said. "It sucks for her and her family. I feel for her, but it is politics."

Redford has been blamed for much of the provincial government's shortcomings over the last few years. According to one constituent, that's unfair. Robert Hilton saod the finger should be pointed at all the Tories.

PC Party reacts

In a statement released Wednesday morning, PC Party president Jim McCormick tried to distance the party from Redford. 

Redford started with "such promise," McCormick wrote, but "it was her own personal choices that led to her demise." 

In her resignation, Redford accepted responsibility for all the decisions she made as premier.

But Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle said responsibility also falls on the current premier and the PC party.

"If one person runs this government by themselves, then the PC party has a bigger problem than we could ever imagine," she said. "No one person does anything alone. You need the cooperation of other ministries. So Redford can try to take away some of the heat from this government and this cabinet, but the reality of it is that there is no 'I' in team." 

NDP MLA Deron Bilous said the government didn't react to Redford's expense scandals fast enough. He called it PC entitlement.

"We know that this runs much deeper than just Alison Redford," Bilous said.

Even an RCMP investigation will not show the exent of the government's involvement in Redford's flight abuses, he said.

"I would like to know which cabinet ministers knew what, and why they didn't act on it."

Mariana Mason, the president of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, or PCAA, for Calgary-Elbow, said she is currently out of the country and learned the news from the media.

"I am saddened by what has occurred, but am proud of the work accomplished by the first female premier of this province and the Calgary-Elbow team," she said.

Party hopes hinge on next leader

McCormick said the "circumstance" will not happen again under the next party leader. The PC leadership vote will be held next month.

"The PCAA and, indeed, all three leadership candidates, have made their positions very clear behaviour such as this cannot and will not be tolerated," McCormick said in a statement.

"The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta is more than one person." 

When Redford entered the PC leadership race in February 2011, she was seen as a long shot to win — especially against perceived front-runner Gary Mar, a former cabinet minister under Ralph Klein. 

But she won on the second ballot and was sworn in as Alberta's first female premier in October 2011.  

Redford fought off the surging Wildrose Party and led the PCs to another majority government in the April 2012 provincial election.

She won 77 per cent approval in a leadership review last November. 

Derek Fildebrandt, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, praised Redford's decision to forgo a transition allowance she's entitled to that's worth an estimated $179,000.

“She had promised never to take that, and today she has reiterated that comment, that commitment,” he said.

CBC has gathered some Twitter reaction from Redford's resignation below. On mobile? Click here.