Meet the 4 candidates in District 9 Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park

As lawmakers labour on in the legislature, there's still one candidate left for voters to elect in the coming weeks.

Four people are vying for the District 9 Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park seat in the legislature — one from each of the four parties on P.E.I.

The election in this district was deferred following the tragic death of Green candidate Josh Underhay and his son Oliver in a canoeing accident just days before the provincial election.

Since then, Progressive Conservative candidate Sarah Stewart-Clark dropped out of the race and the PCs and Greens nominated new candidates. The Liberal and NDP candidates who were running in the main election, are continuing to seek this seat.

The writ was dropped last week for a July 15 election.

In case you haven't met them, here are the candidates for Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park in alpahbetical order — by first name.

Gordon Gay, NDP

Laura Meader/CBC

Of the candidates running in this district, Gordon Gay is the only one who has run in a provincial election before. In 2015, he was the NDP candidate in the former District 9, York-Oyster Bed, and lost to former premier Wade MacLauchlan. 

The loss back then has helped form his campaign this time around.

"What I've carried over is the listening to people. They have to know you care," he said. "If you're not showing people you're genuine … then I'm not too sure how that's going to play out at the box."

Gay has worked as a custodian at Charlottetown Rural High School for over 20 years, and is retiring at the end of this month.

He was also the past president of CUPE Local 1775 and volunteered as a soccer coach.

It didn't matter a political stripe, when an issue arose and people gave you concerns you dealt with it. — Gordon Gay

Gay has canvassed the district for months. He said housing and access to diabetes medication are two major issues he's heard from voters.

"I've talked to people in the last couple weeks where they have family members that require access to insulin and needles and these types of items. … It's very expensive for them, especially for the younger individuals," he said.

Gay said his work helping people through CUPE would carry over to the legislature.

"My goal with them was helping. It didn't matter a political stripe, when an issue arose and people gave you concerns you dealt with it. It was pretty straightforward."

John Andrew, Green

Laura Meader/CBC

John Andrew was nominated as the Green candidate in May after another candidate had to withdraw due to a ruling by Elections P.E.I. 

Andrew has been knocking on doors ever since, with a particular focus on environmental concerns in the district — such as improving water quality in the Wright's Creek Watershed. He co-chairs the watershed's committee.

"I've been working to, first of all, improve what the situation has been over the years along Wright's Creek, which goes right through the centre of our district," he said.

Andrew retired from a long career in health care in 2016. He was the head of medical physics at the QE2 in Halifax and consulted on the expansion of the cancer facility at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.

There are many people living on the edge of just being able to afford the housing that they're renting. — John Andrew

Of the issues he's heard at the doors so far, he said health care is a top priority given the number of people without a family doctor.

Also, housing has come up as another concern for voters.

"There are many people living on the edge of just being able to afford the housing that they're renting, for instance … and they're quite afraid that they might be ejected from that housing for very flimsy reasons," he said.

"So there's a real concern there that they could be homeless."

For voters, Andrew said he offers the district "someone who has lived there and knows their concerns."

Karen Lavers, Liberal

Laura Meader/CBC

Though this is Lavers' first time running in an election, she's had a hand in public service for as long as she can remember, working with the City of Charlottetown for 43 years.

"Working with the city for as long as I had, you know a lot of the residents," she said. "I tell people I went straight to city hall after kindergarten."

Lavers was an executive assistant to mayor and council for 25 of those years and has worked on a range of boards and committees.

Your heart just breaks for them because they need support. — Karen Lavers

Even though she's been knocking on doors since January, a continued focus for her on the campaign trail is to make sure she's heard from every voter in the district.

"For them to get to know me, even going around now sometimes a third time, you're still connecting with people that you left cards at their door," she said. "I still haven't talked to everybody."

After all this time, she's heard a catalog of concerns and issues, predominantly around affordable housing and financial stress.

"People just don't have enough money to get by, and some people are not getting by," she said. "Your heart just breaks for them because they need support, they need help and they need it now. They can't wait for another year."

Lavers said the skills she's picked up after working for the city and all levels of government would serve voters.

"I know how to get things done, let's put it that way," she said. "There's always a solution to everything, right, you just have to be able to find it."

Natalie Jameson, PC

Laura Meader/CBC

Natalie Jameson grew up in the district and recently moved back home to P.E.I. after working in Calgary for several years. She was nominated as the PC candidate this month and, with the help of her volunteers, is aiming to get to every door in the district.

"The energy and momentum is extremely high. I feel like I'm, honest to goodness, crowd surfing and everyone is just carrying me along as we go."

Jameson worked with non-profits, human resources and accounting and has volunteered with charities and organizations across the country, such as women's shelters, the United Way and Ronald McDonald House.

I, without question, am a miles-to-go-before-I-sleep kind of gal. — Natalie Jameson

Concerns in the district have helped shape the focus of her campaign, especially, she said, around seniors housing.

"The problem is the availability of seniors housing options. They're very limited to the demand," she said. "Adding new seniors housing units will definitely improve access and free up existing homes for new families."

Access to a family doctor is another top issue that she's experienced personally, she said. When she moved home to P.E.I. with her family, she went without a doctor for her newborn son for months.

"Without family doctors, people are forced to rely on walk-in clinics and emergency rooms for basic needs," she said. "So I know first hand the stress and anxiety not having a family doctor can certainly cause a family."

If elected, Jameson said she'd bring a lot of energy to the role.

"I, without question, am a miles-to-go-before-I-sleep kind of gal, and I truly believe in hard work," she said.

"I hope that through consultation with the community, I'm able to take all the views and perspectives and bring them to government."

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