Cal­gary NDP MLA an­nounces he won’t be seek­ing re-elec­tion

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - SAMMY HUDES [email protected]­media.com

A third Cal­gary-area NDP MLA has an­nounced he won’t seek re­elec­tion in 2019.

Michael Con­nolly, who rep­re­sents Cal­gary-Hawk­wood rid­ing, an­nounced on his Face­book page Sat­ur­day that he will leave the leg­is­la­ture when his first term ends.

“It was a per­sonal de­ci­sion. I re­ally en­joyed be­ing an MLA but I fig­ured at this time in my life I want to move on to other things,” Con­nolly told Post­media on Sun­day.

“Frankly, I haven’t fully de­cided (what’s next) and right now I’m fo­cused on do­ing the best job I can for my con­stituents un­til the next elec­tion . ... There’s a few dif­fer­ent things I’m con­sid­er­ing, I’m talk­ing to a few peo­ple and re­ally fig­ur­ing out what I want to do for the next, well, at least four years.”

At 21, Con­nolly was the sec­ondy­oungest MLA elected in 2015, and the youngest to be elected in Cal­gary. The 24-year-old was also one of the first three openly gay MLAs elected in Al­berta.

He said his record of stand­ing up for LGBTQ rights is one of the things he’s most proud of dur­ing his time as an MLA.

“Ob­vi­ously, be­ing one of the first three openly gay MLAs ever elected to the leg­is­la­ture, it was some­thing that was very im­por­tant to me and very close to my heart, mak­ing sure that LGBTQ youth won’t be outed by their school ad­min­is­tra­tion or teach­ers,” Con­nolly said, speak­ing of his party’s push to com­pel schools to pro­tect gay-straight al­liances.

He’s one of three Cal­gary-area NDP MLAs who have an­nounced they won’t be run­ning again next year, along with Stephanie McLean in Cal­gary-Var­sity rid­ing, and Brandy Payne in Cal­gary-Aca­dia.

Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter and gov­ern­ment house leader Brian Ma­son, who rep­re­sents Ed­mon­ton-High­lands-Nor­wood and served as NDP leader from 2004 to 2014, has also an­nounced this term will be his last.

Polls sug­gest the NDP trail Ja­son Ken­ney’s UCP lead­ing up to next year’s vote, but Con­nolly says that wasn’t a fac­tor in his plan to step aside next year.

“I re­ally en­joyed my time in the leg­is­la­ture,” he said. “I’m re­ally proud of ev­ery­thing I was able to ac­com­plish. I was re­ally proud to be elected with such a strong group of in­di­vid­u­als.”

One of the big­gest chal­lenges he faced was learn­ing to do the job of an MLA at such a young age.

“Just be­ing a young MLA, some­thing per­son­ally that I found very dif­fi­cult, or at least unique, was the fact that I’m go­ing through all those things that ev­ery­body goes through from the ages of 21 to 25, but at the same time I’m rep­re­sent­ing 50,000 peo­ple,” Con­nolly said. “So that was re­ally a chal­lenge and it was some­thing that I had to fig­ure out very quickly.”

Con­nolly said he’s hope­ful that hav­ing been such a young face in pol­i­tics will in­spire other young peo­ple to get in­volved in public ser­vice.

“I hope that some­body is able to break my record, whether that’s in the next elec­tion or even fur­ther,” he said.

“Ob­vi­ously, I was 21 when I was elected, I’ll be 25 when I leave. It was quite a ride and I was re­ally proud to be a part of it.”

Michael Con­nolly

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