Gerretsen claims fifth-straight election

Liberal MPP for Kingston and the Islands John Gerretsen (left) won the riding with 48.8 per cent of the vote last night. New Democratic Party candidate Mary Rita Holland (centre) came in second and Progressive Conservative candidate Rodger James finished third.
Liberal MPP for Kingston and the Islands John Gerretsen (left) won the riding with 48.8 per cent of the vote last night. New Democratic Party candidate Mary Rita Holland (centre) came in second and Progressive Conservative candidate Rodger James finished third.

On Oct. 6, Liberal incumbent John Gerretsen won Kingston and the Islands, securing 48.8 per cent of the popular vote. New Democratic Party candidate Mary Rita Holland finished second with 23.7 per cent of the vote.

“It’s kind of appropriate that we’re right here at Portsmouth Harbour at the Harbour restaurant,” Gerretsen said to his supporters on Thursday night. “This is just where we started when my family and I first came over ... it’s been almost 40 years since I was first elected as a counselor, then as mayor and it started right here.”

With Ontario remaining a Liberal foothold, with a minority government, Gerretsen’s crowd of 100 supporters remained enthusiastic.

The 16 year veteran MPP said in this election he faced tougher competition than ever before in this election. “It was kind of interesting,” he said to the crowd. “The last debate that we had we all had something nice to say about one another.”

Runner-up Mary Rita Holland said she felt inspired by the poll results. “It was our goal to be a strong second,” she said in her address to her 50 supporters at Toucan pub on Princess Street.

“This proves we are building here.” The NDP have finished third in the Kingston and the Islands riding in the previous provincial elections, behind the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties.

Holland said she plans to run again in the next provincial election because she wants to provide voters with reasons to feel hopeful about politics.

“So many times we’ve had elections where people are voting against something instead of for something,” she said. “That’s the message I wanted to counter. The change we’re talking about really does put people first.”

Co-campaign manager Jamie Masse said Holland’s campaign had a young support-base.

“We did a good job on campus and distinguished ourselves against the other campaigns,” he said.

Masse added the NDP are slowly gaining momentum and that Gerretsen’s years are coming to a close.

“Kingston will definitely be a targeted riding,” he said, of the next Provincial election. “If [Holland] chooses to run again, we’ll have an institutional memory.”

Politics is also something that Progressive Conservative candidate Rodger James plans to pursue after winning 22.3 per cent of Kingston votes.

James, who runs a financial service business, told his supporters that he expects another provincial election in the next year and a half, and that he will run again in it.

“I’m going to bed and tomorrow’s a new day,” he said in his address to the crowd. “I’m going back to work tomorrow.”

At its peak, about 30 supporters appeared at the local PC headquarters, though numbers started trickling out as the poll results came in.

“I’m obviously disappointed with the results,” James said. “It’s tough to go against a guy with 35 years of experience and he’s got 14,000 votes in his pocket when he wakes up in the morning.”

Campus Conservative leader Peter Pakalnis said the team “could have done more of everything.

“We went door to door, we could have gone to more,” Pakalnis, ArtSci ’13, said.

Green Party candidate Robert Kiley wished James well before the results came in. Kiley won 3.7 per cent of the votes, celebrating with a crowd of 20 supporters at the local Green Party headquarters.

“I didn’t get to say goodbye to John [before the results came in], but I gave Mary Rita and Rodger a hug,” he said. “Politics can be positive with a healthy difference.”

Kiley said he would run again in the future.

“The battle doesn’t end,” Kiley, B.Ed. ’12, ,said. “The issues we brought are things we must champion in our lives.”

For now, he plans to finish his teaching degree at Queen’s. During the rigorous campaign period, Kiley said he felt the impact on his study habits.

“I finished two assignments in one night after the debate, and I’ve done assignments five minutes before they’re due,” he said. “I only missed two classes, but I usually -sleep more.”

Kiley said despite having different ideologies than the other candidates, it was still possible to build relationships with them.

- With files from Alyssa Ashton, Caitlin Choi, Gilbert Coyle, Benjamin Deans, Jessica Fishbein, Brendan Monahan, Catherine Owsik and Meaghan Wray

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