Voters in Derek Fildebrandt’s home riding have mixed feelings about their MLA’s decision to leave the United Conservative Party caucus after a series of controversies.
“He’s a nice guy and he represents Strathmore and the community well, but then again, you get caught, you pay the price,” said Sandy Watson, a resident of the Strathmore-Brooks constituency east of Calgary.
“I don’t think it’ll be too good for him, that’s for sure,” added Linda Magee. “I don’t think he would be welcomed like he was before.”
Fildebrandt has been in hot water over double-claimed meal expenses and for claiming the maximum possible housing allowance on his taxpayer-subsidized condo in Edmonton while also renting out the suite on Airbnb on the side.
Then, this week, it was revealed that Fildebrandt is facing a hit-and-run charge from 2016 that he’s still fighting in court.
Hours after that fact was made public, Fildebrandt announced he was resigning from the United Conservative Party caucus to sit as an independent.
He apologized for what he called honest mistakes, and said he didn’t want to be a distraction for the newly-formed party.
‘It’s good that he resigned’
Jordan Ferraton, another voter in Fildebrandt’s constituency, felt that was the right move.
“I think it’s good that he resigned, yeah,” she said. “It”s a pretty big whoops.”
Watson said the whole affair raised questions in her mind about other MLAs’ expense claims, too.
“I think they should review all of ’em, because he’s probably not the only one who’s done it,” she said.
“He just got caught.”
Interim UCP leader Nathan Cooper has said there may be a future for Fildebrandt in the caucus down the road if he can live up to the party’s expectations.
Constituency association standing by MLA
The head of Derek Fildebrandt’s constituency association says they are standing by the embattled Alberta MLA.
Ronda Klemmensen, president of the Legacy Wildrose Constituency Association for the riding east of Calgary, says the group understands Fildebrandt’s decision.
In an emailed statement, she said she believes in Fildebrandt’s integrity and is disappointed by what she called the low-level, ridiculous mud-slinging.
Alex McCuaig, chief of staff to Speaker Bob Wanner, says the Legislative Assembly Office has not yet received any financial reimbursement from Fildebrandt, but has been in contact with him while he’s out of the province.