Lib­eral can­di­dates on bound­ary changes

Par­sons, Gam­bin-Walsh ready for elec­tion; failed can­di­dates keep op­tions open

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

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.

Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh

Pam Par­sons

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