Awaiting a nomination date
Five potential Liberal candidates for Port de Grave spent summer canvasing district
The popularity of the provincial Liberal party has climbed over the past year.
Candidates have been showing interest in running for the Liberals well in advance of nomination dates, with one of the larger districts announcing several people interested before a nomination has even been called.
The district of Port de Grave made provincial headlines after word spread that a dozen potential candidates would be stepping up to the plate.
The area has been a Liberal stronghold in the past. But Progressive Conservative MHA Glenn Littlejohn has been in the seat since 2007.
It has been two months since the announcement of a dozen interested people was made at the annual general meeting of the Liberals in Gander, but only five have been actively campaigning this summer.
Each candidate has his or her own reasons for wanting to run, and their opinions vary on the number of candidates involved. Each candidate was asked the same questions by The Compass, and an edited version of their answers are below.
Justin Butler may be the youngest of the group, at 22, but his age is no reflection of his experience.
The grandson of former district MHA Roland Butler, Justin Butler grew up around politics and believes he has the knowledge and passion for the job.
As for how he feels about having four competitors, Butler is happy.
“By having five (potential candidates) it promotes the Liberal party,” he said.
Candidates are not only campaigning for themselves, they are also signing up supporters for the party. In order to vote for who will represent the Liberals in each district during the election, they must either be a supporter or a member of the party.
“If I sign up 1,000 people, and the other candidates sign up 1,000 each, that’s 5,000 votes for the Liberals.”
Butler also believes no candidate will win by a landslide.
“I don’t see anyone winning a large majority,” he said.
Kay Crane, who got married two weeks ago, decided that now was the best time to take the plunge.
She is a longtime Liberal supporter and loves working with people.
Crane believes the number of competitors will split the vote.
“Having five (possible candidates) shows interest in the community,” she said.
Crane added there may be five now, but she wouldn’t be surprised if more throw their hats in the ring.
“At the Liberal (association) dinner, there were more possible candidates,” she said. “There are still other names (that could announce their intentions to run).”
Candidate Lee Efford is no stranger to politics either. His father is John Efford, a former Liberal MHA and MP.
Efford knew he wanted to get involved in politics at a young age, although he never thought it would be this early in his life. But the time was right.
The idea of five candidates isn’t a positive thing, according to Efford.
“I hope people are not going to be disenfranchised by the number of potential candidates,” he said. “What would be good for competition is three or four.”
Efford strongly believes the area will go back to Liberal red after this election.
“I really do hope people are going to get behind the eventual winner ( from the Liberal nomination),” he added.
Tony Menchions is the only potential candidate so far who has been elected to government. He is a councillor and former deputy mayor of Spaniard’s Bay.
Menchions believes everyone has their core of support, so the race will be an interesting one.
“Having five people is great,” he said. “The more, the merrier.”
One thing Menchions appreciates about the high level of interest is the focus the district is getting.
“This just helps to put the limelight in the area,” he said.
Former media personality Pam Parsons is dedicated to her campaign and says she’s known for a long time that she wanted to run for politics.
She grew up in Spaniard’s Bay, and refers to the district as “home.”
When it comes to the number of candidates, Parsons said it’s irrelevant.
“I’m not focusing on other candidates,” she said. “I am focused on me and my campaign.”
She would like to see a public forum for the five to get together to discuss the issues affecting people.
The nomination process
A nomination has yet to be called for the Port de Grave district. But The Compass has learned it is likely to be during the first week of September. Only one candidate who puts their name forward will be chosen to run in the general election.
In order to vote for a potential candidate, residents of the district must sign up to be a supporter of the Liberals. You can do that by visiting www.nlliberals.ca.
A date and location for the vote will be announced when the nomination dates are revealed.
Of course, when an election is called, voters in the district can pick any party.