Zack Bell will represent the Progressive Conservatives in the upcoming District 10 Charlottetown-Winsloe byelection.
Bell, a former radio personality, won on the second ballot after voting closed on Saturday, and was declared the winner at an in-person meeting in Charlottetown at about 5:20 p.m.
Three candidates were seeking the nomination: Bell, educational assistant Susie Dillon, and Sonya Hooper, the executive director of the Early Childhood Development Association.
"I am feeling just overwhelmed and very excited for the next step," Bell said after winning Saturday evening.
"Well, the next step, obviously, is to win the district."
Only contested race
So far, the Progressive Conservatives are the only party to have a contested race and hold an indoor, in-person event in the lead up to the byelection, which is the province's first during the pandemic.
In person voting had been taking place since Friday and closed at 4 p.m. Saturday. About 45 people attended the nomination meeting, including Premier Dennis King and cabinet members.
"I was very, very grateful to have three amazing candidates and the process of democracy unfolds the way it did, and I'm very happy to have Zack as a candidate," said Premier King.
"I've known him for a very long time and I've known him only to be a hard worker. A good, honest, genuine, community minded person."
Bell said he admires King's collaborative approach to government.
"It is a very difficult time right now for a lot of people, and I do think that a collaborative approach is the best way," he said.
"I coach a lot of teams and, you know, it's not where I go in and say 'this is how we're going to do things,' it's more like, 'ok guys, how can we do this to have the best possible outcome'?"
There were 398 votes cast in the first ballot, and 389 in the second. The party did not reveal the results of the ballots; only that Bell had won.
Challenging minority status
King's Progressive Conservatives hold a minority government on P.E.I. with 13 of the 27 seats in the legislature. A win in District 10 would give King numbers for a majority.
This is also the second district to have a byelection since the general election in April 2019. Progressive Conservative Natalie Jameson also won her seat in a deferred election in July 2019.
Bell said he feels confident in his candidacy and the opportunity, but not pressured.
"My main thought in the last two weeks was on seeing how successful I could become with this nomination," he said.
"I'm always one of those people who, again, to use a sports analogy, you know, you're not starting to think about the end of the game while you're still in the first period."
Though a date for a byelection has not been set, the parties are getting ready. The NDP announced Lynne Thiele as its candidate at a small, outdoor gathering on Sunday and the Liberals announced Zac Murphy as the candidate late Friday night.
The Greens have opened their nominations but have not announced a candidate.
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