Thomas Dang, 20, youngest NDP MLA to win seat in Alberta
U of A computer science student beat PC incumbent Matt Jeneroux for seat in Edmonton-Southwest
The youngest NDP MLA to win a seat in Tuesday's Alberta election says he's still working on wrapping his brain around the victory.
Thomas Dang, 20, scooped the Edmonton-Southwest seat from Progressive Conservative incumbent Matt Jeneroux in Tuesday's election, which saw the NDP go from four seats to 53. Nineteen of those wins were in Edmonton.
Dang, a computer science student at the University of Alberta, has served as a member of the NDP youth caucus and is a member of the campus NDP group, but has never served formally in any political role before.
Asked why he chose to enter the race this election, he said he was drawn to Rachel Notley's energy and to the NDP's "balanced views."
"I saw what was happening with the government and I saw what was happening in Alberta and I thought this isn't a very positive way that we're going. This isn't something that I want my province to be."
On election night, Dang watched closed as the polls trickled in — unwilling to give projections and predictions any sway.
"I wasn't going to count on anybody who called it very early … I was definitely making sure and double checking those numbers a couple times," he said.
Now that his win is official, Dang said he has a lot of work to do, starting with tying up loose ends from the campaign, and then "a lot of learning."
"I don't think there's any job that can quite prepare a person for being an MLA," he said on Thursday. "The learning curve is quite steep."
As a first-time MLA, Bilous said he relied heavily on the mentorship of Rachel Notley, Brian Mason and David Eggen — a favour he is now in a position to pay forward to the new young NDP MLAs like Dang, as well as 23-year-old Jon Carson in Edmonton-Meadowlark and 24-year-old Trevor Horne in Spruce Grove-St. Albert.
And their youth shouldn't be held against them, Bilous said, pointing that Lougheed and his government were similarly inexperienced when first elected.
"I think Albertans elected a very diverse group of MLAs, obviously — we have younger people, we have older people, so I think what the younger MLAs are going to be able to bring is this fresh perspective on politics," Dang said.
"I think we're going to be able to do things that represent a broader and wider range of Albertans that we've never seen in government here before."