A one-time familiar face around the Calgary city council table has decided it’s time to attempt the jump to provincial politics.
Former Ward 11 councillor Brian Pincott is set to announce his candidacy for the Alberta New Democrats in the provincial constituency of Calgary-Acadia for this spring’s provincial election. He’s vying to replace NDP MLA Brandy Payne, who announced earlier this year she wouldn’t seek re-election.
Pincott was first elected to Calgary city council in 2007, replacing then two-time alderman Barry Erskine. He decided not to seek re-election prior to the 2017 civic election. Coun. Jeromy Farkas now represents Ward 11.
When he made the decision to leave civic politics, many figured Pincott would immediately make the jump into provincial politics in some capacity. He said that wasn’t even close.
“I came to the decision long and… painfully. So many things go into making a decision like this,” he told LiveWire Calgary Wednesday.
“I felt that I certainly still have more to do and more to give.”
Pincott has long been a passionate advocate for the city and province’s less fortunate, be it championing affordable housing, sitting as the chair of the board for the Calgary Housing Company, or raising the awareness of Alberta’s poverty-stricken citizens.
“There’s a strong role for the provincial government to play, a strong role, and I feel like I can contribute on that,” he said.
While the three-term councillor felt like he still had more fuel left in the political tank, it didn’t come without a great deal of personal reflection. Pincott has a committed, long-term relationship with partner in another city. He’s also been open about his battle with depression, having gone public with his mental health struggle last year.
“I had to think of the long-distance relationship and what making a commitment to running would mean for that,” Pincott said.
“It was not an easy decision. Let’s put it that way. It was a torturous decision.
“But I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t certain and confident. I’m an all-in kinda guy.”
Pincott’s no stranger to running in bigger elections. He ran in both the 2004 and 2006 federal elections for the NDP.
He said what appealed to him about running provincially is what current Premier Rachel Notley has done for Alberta.
“I see the work that they’re doing and the significant difference they can make on people’s lives,” said Pincott.
But he said that more work needs to be done on affordable housing and during his time with the city he felt they were extended as far as their mandate could go. He said more work needed to be done at the next level.
Pincott said there’s little doubt his steepest learning curve would be operating within a larger bureaucratic structure in a parliamentary legislature – rather than the more direct-control operation at city hall.
“I love challenges and I love learning,” he said.
As Pincott looks ahead to hitting the doors in Calgary-Acadia, he believes the economy will be on the minds of voters. He believes that’s still a major concern for Albertans despite recent economic reports of growing GDP, growing income and other favourable economic indicators.
“For Calgary, we need to get our economic engines running again at full tilt,” Pincott said.
“That doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting for $100 oil. That’s probably not going to happen. It’s looking at our broader economy in Calgary and what does it mean to get out of the boom, bust cycle.”
He said the key is finding a way to look 50 years down the road for both the province and the city of Calgary, an ensuring there’s opportunity for everyone, not just people in one specific sector.
Pincott was set to make the official announcement Thursday morning in Calgary.
The Alberta Party has announced that Lana Bentley will be their candidate in Calgary-Acadia, though the official nomination meeting is scheduled for Oct. 8.