Being the leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador went from being a job few wanted — to a crowded race for the title.

Cathy Bennett is a long-time business leader in St. John's, but a newcomer to the political world.

She's one of the five candidates in the running for the role of Liberal leader. Paul Antle, Dwight Ball, Jim Bennett and Danny Dumaresque are also vying for the job.

Bennett said serving the public is something she is very familiar with and passionate about.

"I think we're at a place in Newfoundland and Labrador right now where it's fairly critical that we have strong leadership and even more effective management," Bennett said.

"There's a lot of opportunities that can be optimized, and I think we need to have leadership and management at the helm that can fulfill all that optimism."

Bennett said some of the biggest issues in the province she wants to focus on include health care, education and a mismatched labour market.

She said her goal is to make the province the ideal place for the younger generation — to encourage them to stay. 

Interim leader to permanent hopeful

Dwight Ball has been interim leader of the Liberal party for over a year and a half, but has officially stepped down from the role to pursue the permanent leadership position.

He said the experience as interim leader has taught him more about politics, and has shown him that he is capable of running the affairs of the province.

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Dwight Ball has officially stepped down as interim leader of the Liberal party to run for the position permanently. (CBC)

"Personally, I know now that I can manage the affairs of the province. I have the confidence in my ability to be premier of this province," Ball said.

"One of the reasons I am seeking the leadership of the Liberal party is that I want the Liberal party to be the next government in Newfoundland and Labrador."

Ball said that people of the province are once again seriously looking to the Liberal party and considering them in a higher regard.

"We've been through a tough spell for the last 10 years or so, but there is no question in my mind that the people that I'm talking to on the ground across this province right now are looking to the Liberal party, and they're looking there with confidence that we can form the next government."

Bennett and Ball were featured on this week's On Point with Peter Cowan.