AIRDRIE – With federal election voting day just a few weeks away, Sarah Zagoda has announced she is looking to secure the Banff-Airdrie riding for the New Democratic Party (NDP).
As a mother of three children with a background in IT, Zagoda said she decided to run because she was becoming upset about the current state of politics in Alberta.
“Things are so different here in comparison to everywhere else,” she said. “I wanted to step up and help be the voice of regular people and see what we can do to help improve our area.”
While this is her first time running in a political election, Zagoda said being in the know and connected with a large community in Airdrie gave her purpose and drove her to want to represent the people in the city.
Zagoda said the NDP's core platform and policies align with her political beliefs, such as the New Democrats’ approach to climate change.
“We can’t just ignore what is happening,” she said. “It’s not just going to get better. We have to take action now. We need to protect our mountains, which protect our glaciers, which is our water source.”
Four other important points of Zagoda’s – and the NDP’s – platform include affordable dental and prescription coverage for all, accessible mental health support, and including post-secondary education under the classification of public education.
“Everybody should be able to go to school,” she said. “Not just those who can afford it. The more people that can go to post-secondary, the more it lifts up Canada as a whole.”
The prescription care part of the NDP platform is also crucial, according to Zagoda.
“Private insurance companies don’t accept pre-existing conditions,” she said. “Our local provincial prescription insurance also doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. A lot of people are being left out on getting the medication that they need.”
Her sentiments are the same with dental care, as she said it can be too expensive for many people to attend regular dental visits.
Part of the issue regarding health benefits, according to Zagoda, is with so much employment centering around contracting.
“If you are working in oil and gas, or any big industry, a lot of them are contract jobs,” she said. “There are no benefits included with that type of work. That is a big problem around here.”
Zagoda and the NDP’s stance on big business in Alberta and the oil and gas sector is that they are aware it is not going anywhere.
“We need it, but there are some things that we can do to improve everything and start building toward a better future,” she said.
Zagoda said subsidies for oil and gas companies could be better spent by investing in renewable energy, job training and other avenues to diversify the provincial economy.
“We can build up that way,” she said. “Oil and gas isn’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean we have to only focus on that when times are changing.”
As a first-time candidate, Zagoda is encouraging voters to do their research and understand the people and parties available to them.
“If they have been in power before – how many promises did they keep? What actually happened?” she said. “Look at ethical things, do your research, and reach out if you have questions.”