Two Somalian-born candidates will face off in Edmonton-Decore in the May 29 provincial election. The buzz is that the UCP’s Sayid Ahmed has a good shot at weakening the socialist grip on this riding, hitherto thought to be a likely NDP hold..Ahmed is running against the NDP’s Sharif Haji who doesn’t live in the riding. In the nomination, Haji beat MLA Chris Nielson, who has held the seat since 2015.. Sharif HajiNDP candidate for Edmonton-Decore, Sharif Haji. .“They quietly removed Chris Nielson and parachuted in Haji,” said Ahmed..That doesn’t sit well with the public service unions that control the Edmonton vote and which supported the more moderate Nielson. They “are not happy,” said Ahmed..Whether they still opt to vote for the party remains to be seen..“Unfortunately, the left, the NDP, they try to put people in a box and play identity politics too much,” said Ahmed..“The machinery of the NDP supported this guy. The main reason was that they were worried about me. Unfortunately, with identity politics they see me as a black man, and they wanted another black man to look like me because this area is a high immigrant population.”.“That’s means what they have lost is eight years of relationships built by the former MLA. This guy must start from the beginning.”.“It’s absolutely an open seat.”.Haji’s stand on defunding police might prove problematic for him in the riding where public safety is a major concern..“My opponent came out to a Black Lives Matter rally where they were pushing a 'defund the police' petition. He said we have to go farther in the divestment approach. He was one of the people pushing defunding the police.”.In June 2020, Haji told Postmedia that actions had to go farther than divesting policy..Haji — who has worked for five years as a public servant in Alberta’s seniors and housing and health ministries — backs an NDP promise to create a racist anti-racism office to address racial inequalities. The former executive director of the Africa Centre promotes the claim that Alberta treats black businesspeople unfairly..Ahmed refuted the claim by the NDP’s “propaganda machine” that Alberta’s hearts and institutions are saturated with racism..“It’s actually the place that gave me my shot in life,” said the economist who moved to Alberta in 2011 and has since worked for the provincial government in senior positions including his current role as an acting senior director in the health department..“I love Canada, love Alberta. I moved here in 2014 from Ottawa. I see myself as an equally-footed Albertan and Canadian as anyone else.”.Everyone — regardless of skin colour — can benefit from the Alberta advantage, he said..“I’ve lived in other parts of the world where you face real racism. There are issues in our system. We aren’t perfect and we can do better in many aspects. But this is a place where if you work hard, you play by the rules and you surround yourself with a good circle, you have a shot to succeed. From rags to riches is possible.”.“That doesn’t mean there are no challenges. There are challenges in every part of the world.”.The proud first-generation Canadian wants to help others “realize their aspirations” in a non-partisan way..“That’s the unfortunate thing. The NDP is focussing on fearmongering whether it’s the healthcare, the environment, or social issues.”.While door knocking, Ahmed hears the top issues in Edmonton-Decore are cost of living, healthcare, crime, and education..“There are many crimes happening in Edmonton. Many folks can’t take the LRT, can’t take the bus, there are shootings. We want more police support to keep criminals at bay and keep our communities safe.”.Ahmed said the NDP create needless “anxiety” about healthcare..“There’s a lot of propaganda coming from the NDP. There are too many lies going around. Like you’re going to pay for your own healthcare card. That will never happen. Now services are getting better.”.Ahmed said he can use his healthcare experience to address sustainability issues..“If we don’t really address the sustainability issues and the bureaucracy challenges, throwing more money at the health care system will not cut it at all. It will only take away more money for social programs that government provides.”.“I know the areas that need real attention. I’m so happy to see that this government prioritized those issues.”.“Eleven or 12 years ago we were talking about the same issues. We were spending $17 billion, maybe $18 billion. Now we are talking about $25 billion.”.Yet problems remain with wait times, availability of health care workers and EMS..His goal would be to help taxpayers get value for their money in the healthcare system, and reform it in a “compassionate and wise way” to make it more sustainable to ensure there are funds to invest in other critical areas including education, public safety, and social programs..He’d bring his economic expertise to the Legislature..“As an economist, I will be bringing fresh perspectives in times of building the engine of our economy and expanding the pie that we have.”.“That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing, to be part of the solution. I don’t want the socialistic NDP’s hand to ruin this province and choke the engine of our economy because we live in the best province of one of the best countries in the world.”.He said “the mother of all evils is poverty.”.“If you create a strong economy that’s compassionate enough, that enables everybody to participate, then you are tackling the root causes of poverty. That addresses some of the biggest systemic issues the NDP likes to fearmonger about.”.“I want to see this province succeed, not only for us but for our future generations as well, for my children.”.Ahmed remembers the poverty and atrocities in war-torn Somalia..He’s come a long way from the mud house where he and 10 siblings were born in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Bloody conflicts raged and people lived in terror..He remembers seeing his uncle’s “bloody body” on the heels of shelling one morning..His parents struggled. His father arrived in Mogadishu from a rural area that herded camels to polish shoes and later work as a janitor and a security guard..His mother built a business selling textiles in a street market..His parents taught him the values of family, community, hard work and education..At 13, he tutored math students for $2 a week, using earnings to pay household bills..His school principal got him a place in the Islamic University of Uganda. His father sold a plot of land to pay the first semester $3,000 tuition..He maintained the 4.75 Grade Point Average required to maintain a scholarship for the economics degree he earned while labouring at a community farm and tutoring..After that he moved to Kenya. As an undocumented Somali immigrant, he suffered severe discrimination..In Kenya he met Malyun. They married in 2009 and she now works as an (LPN) Licenced Practical Nurse. They have four children..The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization hired Ahmed. As a junior economist he travelled sub-Saharan Africa..Ahmed arrived in Canada as a landed immigrant and on scholarship earned a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Ottawa..He worked for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before being hired as a health economist with the Alberta government..“Alberta gave me and my family what we have. For me, Alberta means everything. It is a place that took me in an allowed me to call home.”.A “common sentiment” he hears is people feel that the “north side is neglected.”.Since created in 2004 in a boundary redistribution, Edmonton-Decore bounced from Liberal to Progressive Conservative to NDP..In the 2015 provincial election Nielsen got 68% of the vote. In 2019, it fell to 47.%. UCP candidate Karen Principe, elected councillor of ward tastawiyiniwak in 2021, received 39.9%..There’s another reason Emonton-Decore isn’t considered a safe NDP riding..The map of city council corresponds with Edmonton-Decore. In the 2021 municipal election 70% of the vote went to the two conservative-leaning candidates..“That’s a big litmus test for us that this is absolutely a very winnable riding.”.Western Standard has reached out to Haji..Brent Tyson is also running under the Alberta Party banner in the riding.