Liberal candidates on boundary changes
Parsons, Gambin-Walsh ready for election; failed candidates keep options open
With changes to provincial electoral districts on the horizon, Liberal candidates that have been in place for months may face with a new challenge — keeping their nominations. Current Liberal Port de Grave candidate Pam Parsons and candidate for Placentia-St. Mary’s Sherry GambinWalsh spoke with The Compass about where they sit on the looming changes.
Some local Liberal candidates set to run in the Newfoundland and Labrador 2015 general election may have to earn their spot on the ballot for a second time because of proposed district changes.
Earlier this month, Premier Paul Davis announced he would like to decrease the number of MHAs in the House, ideally from 48 to 38. In doing so, districts would have to be restructured.
After a marathon session in the House last Thursday night that stretched into Friday morning, that number was increased to 40.
Port de Grave representative Pam Parsons and Placentia-St. Mary’s candidate Sherry Gambin-Walsh have been ready to run in the election since last fall. But there is no security for their nominations if either, or both, districts change boundaries.
There has been no official word on what districts may be effected if this comes to fruition, but the upcoming review is slated to be completed before the fall general election. It was originally supposed to take place in March 2016.
The Compass spoke with Parsons and Gambin-Walsh about the proposed reduction of seats, possible district boundary changes and what they would do if they had to earn their nomination a second time around.
District changes possible
Port de Grave was at the centre of a high profile nomination process last year.
At one point, a rumour circulated suggesting upwards of a dozen candidates would seek the Liberal nomination. In the end, six names were on the ballot.
Parsons defeated her fellow candidates, and has been campaigning in the district ever since.
One thing she has heard from residents of Spaniard’s Bay and Tilton is that they would like to see the district boundaries change.
“I heard this first hand, the residents … want to vote for the same member and want to be in the same district,” Parsons told The Compass. “We don’t need to divide a community.”
As The Compass reported in last week’s edition, Spaniard’s Bay is split between Port de Grave and the district of Carbonear-Harbour Grace. Mayor Wayne Smith is among those who would like to see its residents served by a single MHA.
Gambin-Walsh isn’t getting that response in her district.
“People are somewhat dumbfounded,” she said, noting they don’t feel they have been informed enough about what’s happening.
When asked if she had any idea where her district should start and end, she was quick to admit she isn’t qualified to make that kind of guess.
“It would be like taking a pen and just drawing a divide. I don’t have the expertise,” she said.
But Gambin-Walsh did confirm she’s ready for whatever changes lie ahead.
If boundaries do change as expect- ed in either district, both Parsons and Gambin-Walsh are ready to hit the ground running again.
“I’m 100 per cent committed to serving the people, so absolutely (I will run). I’m committed to this work,” Parsons said.
The cost of running for a nomination is a personal expense for each candidate. But Parsons said that’s an expense she’s willing to take on.
Even with the cost, Gambin-Walsh is also ready to seek the nomination again if required.
“This is politics. I’m very well aware that things can happen,” she explained. “I will run again, if the party is still willing to have me.”
She did admit if her district gets divided, she has family and roots all over the region, so she would have to seriously consider where she would run, but she will definitely add her name to another ballot.
The Compass reached out to some of the former candidates for both Port de Grave and Placentia-St. Mary’s.
Justin Butler, who was runner-up to Parsons in last year’s nomination vote, had his own opinion on the changes.
“With major changes in the districts and the organization of the dis- trict associations, things certainly would be interesting,” he explained.
When asked if he’d consider running again if a new call for nominations is made, he replied, “I’d never say never.”
Lee Efford, who was the third place finisher in the Port de Grave nomination, couldn’t confirm if he would consider another run.
“For the time being there have been no changes to the Port de Grave district. If a change is made and the nominations are called for again, I won’t rule anything out,” he said.
The Compass also contacted former Placentia-St. Mary’s candidate Larry Foley, who said he was not ready to comment at this time.
During the meeting in the House last week, Bill 42 passed, confirming the general election will take place in 2015, likely in November.
Restructuring is expected to get underway shortly, starting with the appointment of an electoral boundaries commission.
In the coming months, the new boundaries will be drawn out, and there will be more clarity on what’s in store for Parsons and Gambin-Walsh.