Liberal party members from across Alberta met in Calgary on Sunday to pick a new interim leader and put their overwhelming support behind Dr. David Swann to lead them into the next election.

All members were invited to the Board of Directors meeting at the Clarion Hotel in the city’s northeast to discuss future plans and the leadership of the party.

Raj Sherman stepped aside as liberal leader last week and said he will not seek a third term as MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark in the next election.

The Board of Director Presidents and executive voted and Alberta Liberal Seniors Critic David Swann was their clear choice.

“I can tell you that Dr. David Swann won a very healthy majority vote,” said Shelley Wark-Martyn, Alberta Liberal Party President. “Alberta needs an opposition in the next election and the Alberta Liberal Party is the opposition of choice.”

“I’m just so grateful for the vote of confidence and I look forward to working with the team that are here. I see a lot of enthusiasm within these halls and I see a lot of Albertans starting to reach out to us saying we cannot abide this Tory-Wildrose juggernaut, we are going to change the way we live and work and volunteer in this coming election,” said Swann.

Swann is in his third term as MLA for Calgary-Mountain View and says he is ready to take on Jim Prentice whenever he calls the next election.

“I have matured. This party has matured. We’ve seen much more clearly how absent this PC government is and now including with the Wildrose and collapsing our democracy, outraged most of this province, people are looking for honest, hard-working, smart government, they have not seen evidence of that and Mr. Prentice has said he’s providing new management, well I’m sorry we need new leadership in Alberta not better management,” he said.

Laurie Blakeman, MLA for Edmonton-Centre, was also interested in the job and said she would step in under the condition that she be “given a comprehensive mandate to negotiate a structured cooperation and eventual amalgamation with the Alberta party.”

When asked if the Alberta Party would be included in the liberal’s future plans Wark-Martyn said “absolutely not” and that “the energy in the room and the conversation in the room was overwhelmingly in support of going forward as the Liberal Party of Alberta.”

Swann says he has always been open to cooperation and communication with other progressive parties but that now is not the time for a merger.

“We are up against a very tight timeline. We have to establish good candidates, volunteers and finances for a very early election. Many of us are not as ready as we need to be and it’s very clear that there may be opportunities to talk but it’s very late in the game for any kind of meaningful electoral cooperation,” he said.

Swann says he would consider a merge with the Alberta Party after the election and would be open to discussions.

“We think they’ve got a long way to go before they can be seen as a legitimate party in Alberta but I think they have a lot of strength in young people in their social media and their enthusiasm for progressive values in Alberta.”

Swann will take the helm for the next year and a leadership convention must be held within that year to pick a permanent leader.