West was first elected to the Alberta Legislature in the 1986 Alberta general election. He easily won a two race over New Democrat candidate Mervin Stephenson in the electoral district of Vermilion-Viking. He was re-elected to his second term in the 1989 Alberta general election winning a three way race with a slightly reduced plurality over the last election.
West was appointed to his first cabinet portfolio under the government of Don Getty. He served as Minister of Recreation and Parks from April 1989 to February 1992. He became Solicitor General in a cabinet shuffle and held that post until Ralph Klein became Premier in December 1992. Under the Ralph Klein government, West was appointed as Minister of Municipal Affairs. He held that post until December 1994.
Vermilion-Viking was abolished due to redistribution in 1993, West ran for his third term in the new electoral district of Vermilion-Lloydminster. The race was a rerun of the 1989 Vermilion-Viking election as both the challenging candidates for the New Democrats and Liberals faced West for the second time. The race was hotly contested as Liberal candidate Greg Michaud quadrupled his popular vote. Despite the strong showing by the Liberal candidate West won the new district by increasing his popular vote.
West was moved to the Transportation and Utilities portfolio in December 1994, he served that post until May 1996, when he was appointed Minister of Economics Development and Tourism. West was re-elected to his fourth and final term as MLA in the 1997 Alberta general election. He won the electoral district in a landslide with his largest percentage and plurality of his political career. After the election he was appointed Minister of Energy on March 26, 1997. The last post he served in cabinet was as Minister of Finance.
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