Fed­eral Lib­er­als pick Om­stead to run again in Leam­ing­ton

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION - TREVOR TERFLOTH

Af­ter a strong show­ing three years ago, the fed­eral Liberal nom­i­nee for Chatham-Kent-Leam­ing­ton will again carry the ban­ner in 2019.

Katie Om­stead was of­fi­cially ac­claimed dur­ing a nom­i­na­tion meet­ing at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Til­bury on Thurs­day night.

Om­stead said she was “hum­bled, hon­oured and grate­ful” for the sec­ond chance, adding she will con­tinue to lis­ten and learn from those in the rid­ing.

“I will con­tinue to be hon­est and I will con­tinue to be frank,” she said.

In 2015, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Lib­er­als won a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment, Om­stead fin­ished with 19,351 votes, sec­ond to Con­ser­va­tive MP Dave Van Kesteren, who had 21,677 votes. NDP can­di­date Tony Walsh had 9,549 votes.

Van Kesteren has said he will not be seek­ing re-elec­tion. The 62year old Van Kesteren, a Chatham res­i­dent, was first elected as an MP in 2006.

Om­stead cred­ited her team on the ground for mak­ing it a close race in 2015, but added there is still much work to do.

“The Liberal gov­ern­ment is mak­ing real progress,” she said. “And to­gether we can keep build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture for Chatham-Kent-Leam­ing­ton res­i­dents, for Cana­dian fam­i­lies.”

The 34-year-old el­e­men­tary school teacher was born and raised in Chatham-Kent, and now re­sides with her hus­band and young daugh­ter in Leam­ing­ton.

She co-founded the grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion Leam­ing­ton Stands Strong, and ded­i­cates her time to such is­sues as poverty re­duc­tion, hu­man rights, new­comer set­tle­ment and anti-hu­man traf­fick­ing ini­tia­tives.

Om­stead said through­out her time in the var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties, she has heard “mes­sages of hope and mes­sages of de­spair.” Af­ter her speech Thurs­day, Om­stead said some peo­ple have un­for­tu­nately be­come dis­il­lu­sioned with pol­i­tics — par­tic­u­larly be­cause of what they see in the U.S. — but added that res­i­dents still have con­cerns in the rid­ing, cit­ing jobs and ero­sion as ex­am­ples. Other pri­or­i­ties for Om­stead in­clude health care, mental health ser­vices, se­niors and vet­er­ans. She said al­though there has been progress at the na­tional level, there needs to be change lo­cally.

“In our com­mu­nity though, the time has come to elect a Liberal MP, so that we can have a seat at the ta­ble in Ot­tawa, so that we can have a strong voice to rep­re­sent us,” she said.

“I know the con­di­tions for growth are right here in Chatham-Kent-Leam­ing­ton.” Leam­ing­ton farmer Dave Epp won the Con­ser­va­tive nom­i­na­tion for the rid­ing last month, while the NDP has yet to nom­i­nate a can­di­date.

TREVOR TERFLOTH

Katie Om­stead was ac­claimed as the fed­eral Liberal can­di­date in Chatham-Kent-Leam­ing­ton.

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