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