PEI

District 9 candidates reflect on 'roller-coaster ride' of a campaign

The Liberal and NDP candidates for the deferred election in District 9 say they remain committed to running despite a campaign marked by tragedy as well as recent events surrounding the Green and PC party nominations.

Election deferred after death of Green candidate days before April vote

NDP candidate Gordon Gay and Liberal candidate Karen Lavers say they never considered dropping out of the campaign. (CBC)

The Liberal and NDP candidates for the deferred election in District 9 say they remain committed to running despite a campaign marked by tragedy as well as recent events surrounding the Green and PC party nominations.

The vote was delayed in Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park after the death of Green candidate Josh Underhay and his young son.

Now a deferred election is being held to fill the vacant seat. Under the Elections Act the deferred election must be held by July 19.

Sarah Stewart-Clark was the PC candidate but withdrew Monday because of personal and family commitments. The PCs have not yet nominated a candidate for the district.

Last week, John Andrew was named to replace Underhay as the Green Party candidate. That came after the party withdrew Susan Hartley as a contestant for its nomination following a ruling by Elections P.E.I. that found her ineligible to run, as she had already run in another district.

'It weighs on everybody'

NDP candidate Gordon Gay said Underhay's death was a horrible shock.

"I did a lot of reflecting personally, and I think I put a lot of things in my own life in perspective," Gay said.

The District 9 election was deferred after the death of Green candidate Josh Underhay. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"There's been so many emotions," said Liberal candidate Karen Lavers. She said Underhay's death has been felt in all corners of the community. 

"It was very emotional and, like I said, it weighs on everybody and it's certainly always in the back of your mind." 

But Lavers and Gay said they never thought of dropping out of the race and remain committed to the residents in the district.

"I thought well, I owe it to the people if not myself, to keep on going," Gay said.

'It's been a roller-coaster ride for sure'

Despite the turmoil surrounding the deferral and extended campaign, both candidates said they remain focused on the task at hand.

"From the very start, it was me representing District 9," Lavers said. 

"I connected with the people in the district, I've worked with the people in the district. I'm passionate about working with people and I've never strayed away from that over the last year."

She said other candidates dropping out or withdrawing hasn't affected what she has been doing in the community.

Gay said it seems to be one thing after another in District 9, and while he hasn't considered withdrawing from the race, campaigning a second time does take a toll. 

"It's been a roller-coaster ride for sure," Gay said. "It's very gruelling, there is no doubt about it, it takes up a lot of your time."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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