Lo­cal can­di­dates are ready to go

Kings County can­di­dates hit the cam­paign trail as May 30 elec­tion is called

Annapolis Valley Register - - COVER STORY - BY JEN­NIFER VARDY LIT­TLE, ASH­LEY THOMP­SON AND WENDY EL­LIOTT KINGSCOUN­TYNEWS.CA KINGS COUNTY

When Stephen Mcneil dropped the writ on April 30, can­di­dates from all par­ties in the three Kings County rid­ings were ready to go – al­beit a day later than ex­pected.

Many Nova Sco­tians ex­pected the premier to dis­solve the govern­ment and call the elec­tion the day be­fore, es­pe­cially af­ter a Lib­eral ad­ver­tise­ment, fea­tur­ing Mcneil’s photo and the elec­tion date of May 30, ap­peared briefly on the party’s web­site.

“Let’s face it, it’s the worst kept se­cret in Nova Sco­tia,” Kings South Tory can­di­date Peter Har­ri­son said April

28, an­tic­i­pat­ing an April 29 elec­tion call.

The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives felt so con­fi­dent the writ would be dropped leader

Jamie Bail­lie kicked off his cam­paign and un­veiled his plat­form in Dart­mouth. The move built on the ac­tions of the NDP, which be­gan mak­ing plat­form an­nounce­ments ear­lier in April, in­clud­ing a stop in Kentville, where leader Gary Bur­rill promised to re­verse nurs­ing home cuts.

In­stead, af­ter a day po­lit­i­cal pun­dits spent on ten­ter­hooks, wait­ing for the elec­tion to be called, Mcneil man­aged to sur­prise Nova Sco­tians af­ter all with the April 30 call – the last pos­si­ble day for him to drop the writ for a May 30 elec­tion date.

Kings South

De­spite the of­fi­cial de­lay, Har­ri­son was off to the races April 29.

“With a com­pet­i­tive nom­i­na­tion ses­sion, I’ve been on the doorsteps for the past four weeks,” said Har­ri­son, who was nom­i­nated to carry the party’s ban­ner just three days be­fore the elec­tion was called.

“Health, ed­u­ca­tion and roads – those are prob­a­bly the main is­sues peo­ple are talk­ing about, like other ru­ral rid­ings. Look at Com­mer­cial Street in New Mi­nas…three years of ne­glect­ing main­te­nance of the roads has cer­tainly cost this govern­ment plenty.”

While Har­ri­son he­si­tates to say the peo­ple he’s met on the doorstep are ready for an elec­tion call, he be­lieves area res­i­dents were ex­pect­ing it. And, he says, vot­ers are look­ing for a govern­ment that will do bet­ter.

“Kings South is a bell­wether rid­ing, yes, but it also has strong Tory roots,” he said. “I want to bring the tra­di­tional Tories back to their roots…i’m from Kings South, I’ve lived here all my life ex­cept for four years, and I’m com­mit­ted to listening to the hopes and dreams of res­i­dents of Kings South.”

In­cum­bent Keith Irv­ing, who was elected un­der the Lib­eral ban­ner in 2013, be­gan can­vass­ing in Jan­uary. So far, he says, re­ac­tion on the doorstep has been “pretty good. I’m en­cour­aged,” adding,

“I’m ex­cited to get back on peo­ple’s doorsteps and hear their con­cerns.”

The Lib­eral bud­get, tabled just three days be­fore the elec­tion call, of­fers a tax cut that Irv­ing be­lieves should be a “sig­nif­i­cant help to folks earn­ing less than $25,000. I think that’s a pol­icy step that re­flects what Stephen Mac­neil stands for.”

Stephen Schei­der, who is car­ry­ing the ban­ner for the Kings South NDP, was out can­vass­ing be­fore the elec­tion call as well. The Saint Mary’s Univer­sity crim­i­nol­ogy pro­fes­sor wants to im­ple­ment tu­tor­ing and men­tor­ing projects - much like Aca­dia Univer­sity’s SMILE pro­gram - in Kings South if he’s elected.

“I’d like to lever­age univer­sity stu­dents in this rid­ing for change,” Sch­nei­der said. “That could be an amaz­ing thing.”

On doorsteps, he says, he’s heard about the frus­tra­tion vot­ers have with the cur­rent govern­ment and its leader, ed­u­ca­tion wor­ries and em­ploy­ment con­cerns.

In health care, par­tic­u­larly cut­backs to nurs­ing homes, he said are a fo­cus in a rid­ing with many se­niors.

Kings North

Not run­ning in this elec­tion wasn’t an op­tion for NDP can­di­date Ted Cham­pion. As an ed­u­ca­tional as­sis­tant, he has a bird’s eye view of the prob­lems with Nova Sco­tia’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

“I have seen first-hand the how bro­ken our public ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is,” says the

Port Wil­liams res­i­dent. “My chil­dren have all had good, even amaz­ing, teach­ers, but the pres­sures in the class­room due to large class sizes, added ini­tia­tives, data and class­room man­age­ment, and dis­re­spect has drained and ex­hausted many of them to the point of break­ing.”

Fix­ing that, he says, must be a pri­or­ity for the next govern­ment.

“I have watched as many is­sues in our com­mu­ni­ties are ad­dressed through Band-aid ap­proaches and not real so­lu­tions,” he said. “I am ready to speak out on the is­sues fac­ing our com­mu­ni­ties.”

For in­cum­bent John Lohr, seek­ing a sec­ond term as the Tory rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Kings North means one thing: do­ing the right thing for Nova

Sco­tians.

“The public, in my opin­ion, is a lit­tle up­set at the

Mcneil govern­ment,” Lohr said.

“They’re up­set at how the teach­ers were han­dled. From many per­spec­tives, it was bul­ly­ing.”

Cuts to the film tax credit and the un­ful­filled cam­paign prom­ise of en­sur­ing there was a doc­tor for ev­ery Nova Sco­tian also sours the public opin­ion to the sit­ting Lib­er­als, he adds, but says there are many other is­sues that must be ad­dressed as well – roads, over­crowd­ing at Val­ley Re­gional and agri­cul­tural needs of the area, to name a few.

“It’s been a priv­i­lege know­ing that for the last three-and-a-half years I’ve been able to serve Kings North and I’d love to have the con­fi­dence of the vot­ers for another term,” he said. “I be­lieve my role is to con­nect peo­ple with help and there have been a num­ber of peo­ple I’ve been able to help – it’s an op­por­tu­nity to do good, and that’s what I love about it.”

In­stead of de­liv­er­ing mail to res­i­dents in late April, let­ter car­rier and Lib­eral can­di­date Geof Turner spent his time go­ing doorto-door to meet Kings North res­i­dents.

“As a let­ter car­rier, I have con­nected with peo­ple at home and on the job on a daily ba­sis for many years. I know how hard we all work to suc­ceed,” he says, adding peo­ple in the rid­ing care deeply about one another and the best they can for their fam­i­lies and each other.

“I also know that from time to time we all face dif­fi­cult chal­lenges and some­times tragic cir­cum­stances. I have learned how to lis­ten and to help find so­lu­tions.”

Cit­ing his work as the vol­un­teer pres­i­dent of my lo­cal postal work­ers’ union,

“where we strive to re­solve dif­fer­ences fairly and am­i­ca­bly,”

Turner says he knows how to ne­go­ti­ate and achieve pos­i­tive out­comes.

“I be­lieve it will serve Kings North res­i­dents well to have an MLA who cares and knows how to help.”

Kings West

Ch­eryl Bur­bidge says her first­hand knowl­edge of front­line health-care needs makes her a per­fect MLA in Kings West.

The emer­gency room nurse at Val­ley Re­gional, who car­ried the NDP ban­ner in Kings West, say it’s that knowl­edge that prompted her to put her name for­ward.

“It’s a com­bi­na­tion of the frus­tra­tions I’ve seen in the health-care sys­tem, but also see­ing peo­ple in need in our area. They’re hun­gry, they’re un­der em­ployed or they’re un­em­ployed. There’s seems to be just an over­all de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of where we’re go­ing as far as help­ing our most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple,” she said, list­ing poverty and wait times for pub­li­cally-funded men­tal health ser­vices among her chief con­cerns.

Bur­bidge strongly feels ex­tra steps should be taken to en­sure Nova

Sco­tians re­quir­ing sup­port are matched with the re­sources they need, and feels the NDP plat­form will do just that.

Leo Glavine has held the Kings West seat for most of re­cent mem­ory – he’s eas­ily taken it for the Lib­er­als in the last four pro­vin­cial elec­tions, since 2003. As the cur­rent health min­is­ter, he’s come un­der some crit­i­cism for his de­ci­sions, but be­lieves he still has the faith of the rid­ing and wants to take the knowl­edge he’s gained over the past four years in govern­ment and ap­ply it in another term.

“I would like to be part of the govern­ment that goes fur­ther with re­ally putting us in po­si­tion to have an ex­cep­tion­ally strong health-care sys­tem as the de­mand grows from the Baby Boom co­hort,” he said.

Bal­anc­ing the health port­fo­lio with the needs of the rid­ing has been tricky at times, he ad­mits, and re­sulted in 70-hour work weeks over the last four years – but he wouldn’t change a thing.

“It’s been an un­be­liev­able op­por­tu­nity.”

As far as Chris Palmer is con­cerned, the Tory plat­form is the only one that pro­vides a so­lu­tion for the needs to Nova Sco­tians. Palmer, a well­known mu­si­cian and com­mu­nity vol­un­teer, threw his hat in the ring for the sec­ond time as he seeks the Kings West seat.

“A lot of the is­sues and prob­lems that we were fac­ing in 2009 are still there to a large de­gree,” said Palmer, who be­lieves that boost­ing the econ­omy, pro­vid­ing sup­port to small busi­nesses and re­tain­ing young peo­ple as the big­gest needs in the area.

Some­what iron­i­cally, Palmer says the big­gest con­cern he’s hear­ing on the doorstep from Kings West res­i­dents is a need for bet­ter health care.

“Peo­ple are very con­cerned about the health care,” he said, pledg­ing to make sure is­sues like se­nior care, doc­tor short­ages and wait times for men­tal health ser­vices are ad­dressed.

“I don’t get in­volved just to oc­cupy a seat and rub­ber stamp what’s al­ready hap­pen­ing. To me, if some­thing’s not quite work­ing… I like to have ideas and chal­lenge the sta­tus quo.”

New Tesla charg­ing sta­tions in An­napo­lis Royal.

Stephen Sch­nei­der

Ch­eryl Bur­bidge

John Lohr

Leo Glavine

Chris Palmer

Peter Har­ri­son

Keith Irv­ing

Ted Cham­pion

Geof Turner

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