Dwight Ball wants to lead Liberals into 2015 vote
Interim leader says he will focus on rebuilding and debt reduction
New Liberal Leader Dwight Ball says he will run to keep the job whenever the party calls a leadership convention, and will focus on rebuilding and debt reduction until then.
"As a businessman I know the burden that debt can have on an organization and my first priority as Liberal leader will be to get debt reduction to a managable level," Ball said Thursday.
CBC News first reported Monday that Ball would take on the party's top job. He was officially unveiled as leader Thursday.
Ball replaces Kevin Aylward as party leader and Yvonne Jones as Opposition leader in the house of assembly.
He becomes the party's sixth leader in eight years.
"I believe that team building is what we need right now," Ball said. "We need to reach out to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to listen to their hopes and to their dreams."
Ball takes over a party that has struggled with internal divisions and a crippling party debt. Two years ago, the party was carrying liabilities of more than $700,000, according to the most recent Elections Newfoundland and Labrador filings.
The party executive hasn't decided when to call a leadership convention, but says it won't happen in 2012.
Liberal Party president Judy Morrow says she is "very excited about this new chapter" to help the party turn the page.
"Dwight's leadership is in place until such time as we call a full-blown leadership convention at some point in the future," Morrow said.
Whenever that happens, Ball says he will be there. "It is my intention to be a candidate in the leadership convention and certainly my plan to lead this party into the next general election," he said.
According to his party bio, Ball is the owner of Deer Lake Pharmacy and the Humber Valley Seniors Complex.
He was first elected to the House of Assembly in a 2007 byelection, defeating PC Darryl Kelly by just seven votes. Kelly came out the victor in the general election rematch later that year.
But Ball won the rubber match in 2011, edging out Kelly by just 68 votes.