Brooks mayor to run for leader of Alberta Party

Barry Morishita is stepping down as mayor of Brooks to run for the leadership of the Alberta Party.

Barry Morishita also resigned as president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

Barry Morishita is the new leader of the Alberta Party. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Barry Morishita is stepping down as mayor of Brooks to run for the leadership of the Alberta Party.

However, the race is currently looking a bit lonely. Morishita registered his run on Friday and is currently the only registered candidate to be leader.

The nomination period closes at the end of this month and the party will vote in a new leader on Nov. 6, 2021. 

Morishita told Brooks city council on Monday evening that he plans to release a formal statement in the coming days, but that he won't be running again for mayor. 

The southern Alberta city will elect a new mayor on Oct. 18. There's currently just one candidate in the running, Norman Gerestein.

On Monday, Morishita also resigned from his other major role — president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. 

Angela Duncan, deputy mayor of the village of Alberta Beach, was appointed AUMA's interim president. A new president will be elected at the association's November convention. 

CBC News has reached out to Morishita for comment. The Alberta Party confirmed in an emailed statement that Morishita is currently working through the process to enter the race. 

Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, said Morishita's candidacy is great news for the Alberta Party. 

"I mean, this is somebody who's already very, very well known and connected to all of the urban municipalities …he's got connections throughout the province," she said. 

The Alberta Party's former leader, Stephen Mandel, stepped down in June 2019 just 15 months in to the job after his party failed to win a single seat in the provincial election. 

Jacquie Fenske, a former Progressive Conservative MLA, has been serving as acting leader. Fenske has said previously that the party intends to target its efforts more narrowly toward specific constituencies this time around, in order to get back into the legislature.

The party took about nine per cent of the overall vote in 2019. 

Williams said the Alberta Party could be the answer for disaffected United Conservative voters who aren't prepared to vote for the NDP. 

"They still think even though Rachel Notley in government was quite pragmatic and centrist in most of her policies, that label NDP is a bit much for some of them," she said.

"I think for folks that are looking for an alternative, the moderate alternative at the centre, this may be the answer to what they've been looking for."

With files from Julie Debeljak


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