Jurgens hears the call to return to public service

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For Victoria Jurgens, the decision to seek the Saskatchewan Party nomination for the Northcote constituency again wasn’t an easy one.

Jurgens has been the Sask. Party candidate in the riding for the past two elections. She won in 2011, defeating incumbent NDP MLA Darcy Furber by a mere 191 votes. She lost to current NDP MLA Nicole Rancourt by a similarly slim margin in 2016, falling by 261 votes.

She’s been contemplating a third attempt at the seat since that 2016 loss.

“It’s a decision that took me a few years,” Jurgens, who announced her candidacy for the Saskatchewan Party nomination late Monday, said by phone Tuesday afternoon.

“I decided just prior to my husband getting sick that I would gran the nomination forms and get everything lined up.”

On Feb. 19, Jurgens’ husband, Allan, was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. It had already spread to his liver. He encouraged her to keep going.

“He kept telling me, ‘you’ve got to get your papers in,’” she recalled.

She said no because she didn’t know how much time with him she had left.

Fifty-one days later, Allan died.

“I decided, what’s the best way I can help the most people?” Jurgens said.

“Once again, the call to public service came to the fore. I knew the nomination meeting was happening really quickly, and I thought I’d best get going.”

The nomination meeting is coming up quickly. It’s set for June 10. Jurgens has at least one person to compete against for the nomination. Health care professional Alana Ross announced her candidacy earlier this month.

Jurgens pointed to past experience as a reason why she was a stronger candidate than Ross.

“I already know the system, I’m ready to hit the road running,” she said.

“I’ve got a track record that I’m pretty pleased with in terms of what we accomplished for Prince Albert and specifically for Prince Albert Northcote. It shows that I have the capability and the skills to be able to persuade my colleagues what’s needed for Prince Albert.”

Jurgens said that when she was last MLA, her constituents expressed concerns surrounding community safety and a lack of child care spaces.

She pointed to the development of the Hub and Core programs, aimed at connecting people with services to cut down on crime, and the hiring of more police officers as examples of making the community safer. Hope’s Home, which opened while Jurgens was MLA, added 90 spots for child care, especially for children with more complex medical needs.

Jurgens also pointed out that then-premier Brad Wall’s commitment to fully-fund a new hospital for Prince Albert came while she was a sitting MLA, a promise that has since been re-affirmed by current Premier Scott Moe.

“It took me a while to persuade my colleagues of that fact, but just prior to the election, the former premier said there was a good case,” Jurgens said.

“I want to be sitting at that table to keep reminding (the government) that this is what Prince Albert needs because that has now moved up to the top of the list as I have moved the other issues before to the top of the list.”

Health care, including mental health care, is a priority for Jurgens.

“We have mental health and addictions issues fairly prevalent in our city, and our province and government have done a great deal in the area, but I think a little more could be done. Sitting at the table of government gives you an influence.”

While Jurgens’ record does include the issues she highlighted, it also includes that 2016 election loss. But Jurgens believes that her record, and what can be done by a member of the government as opposed to the opposition, speaks for itself. She pointed to the operational funding recently promised by the provincial government for the Rose Garden Hospice.

“Joe Hargrave … was instrumental in getting the Rose Hospice operational funding. It gives a validation that when you have people sitting at the table of government, a lot can be done.”

Jurgens hopes that’s enough of an incentive to swing the Northcote seat back to the Saskatchewan Party in October of 2020.

“A member of government sits at that table every day we have discussions. But when you have an opposition member representing you, they don’t sit at the government table.”

Jurgens also emphasized that her intentions for running for office are the same as they were eight years ago when she first became an MLA.

“When I was first running, I had what I call the ‘call to public service,’” she said.

“It took me a while to decide because it’s not uncommon for politicians to — shall I say go astray.”

That’s when Jurgens discovered the government’s code of ethics for MLAs.

“What I did back then and intend to do again is print out that code of ethics and place it on my desk, rad it in the morning, and read it in the evening so I know what the purpose of public service is.

“That is to help the most people in the best way.”