Opening of campaign office leads to questions of presence
© Christopher Gooding photo
With his wife Mary-Anne behind him, Cumberland Sounth Liberal Kenny John Jackson opened his Springhill campaign headquarters Tuesday night.
SPRINGHILL – The Cumberland South campaign trail is heating up with the official opening of Liberal candidate Kenny John Jackson’s campaign office, but for the Springhill Police Officer and private business owner, the campaigning started almost three years ago.
Jackson is looking to unseat incumbent MLA and Progressive Conservative Party leader Jamie Baillie. It’s been a two-year mission since losing the October 2010 by-election to replace PC Murray Scott to the party leader, and Jackson said Tuesday his record show he’s been anything but idle during that time.
“People have been watching over the last few year and it’s funny. I’ve been knocking on doors and people have been telling me they have been watching me,” Jackson said. “They’ve learned. They believe in me. They know it would have been just as easy to call it a day after the by-election.”
Instead, Jackson said, he went to work sending letters and information to department ministers about local issues, like the incomplete school construction in River Hebert, a passing lane in front of the Advocate Harbour school and needed repairs to the Lynn Mountain bridge.
While campaigning door-to-door with his wife Marry-Anne, Jackson’s work ethic after the 2010 by-election is now an icebreaker when meeting people.
“She says, “Kenny just hasn’t realized he didn’t win the by-election. We have to tell him he didn’t win the by-election. He thinks he’s the MLA,” Jackson said.
Jackson recognizes taking on a party leader is a challenge, but doesn’t expect it to be anymore of a challenge for the candidates running against the remaining party leaders. If anything, Jackson said the election call is a chance for constituents to register how they feel they’ve been represented.
“He is the leader of the Conservative party, but the biggest factor is people are telling me he isn’t around. He hasn’t been around over the last three years.” Jackson said. “To be respectful, he is the leader and he’s trying to rebuild his party and he needs to be in more places than this riding.”
From the audience that gathered at his Springhill headquarters, however, Jackson drew applause retelling what he is hearing from constituents.
“They’ve had enough. They’ve had enough with the NDP. They’ve had enough with the local MLA that is never here. They’re tired of calling, no answer. No response to their calls and nothing is being done.”
In the weeks leading up to the writ, signs promoting Jackson starting popping up both in Springhill and in the riding when the election call was anything but a sure thing. It could be a sign either the riding is ready to change its stripes or that dissension will be more obvious in the future.
Jackson’s betting on change.
“I’ve had so many people at the door tell me ‘I didn’t vote for you last time Kenny but I’m voting this time.’”
In the 2010 by-election Baillie claimed 57 per cent of the vote here in Cumberland South, followed by Jackson with 38 per cent and five per cent to the NDP candidate Scott McKee.
Also campaigning in this year’s election against Jackson and Baillie is the Cumberland South NDP riding association’s president Larry Duchesne.