Natyshak takes Essex

By Joel Charron

It was a dogfight to the bitter end but when the final votes were tallied only one emerged victorious.

In Thursday night’s provincial election, NDP candidate Taras Natyshak earned 17,375 votes, beating out Brister, who had 16,006 votes, Liberal candidate Ken Schmidt at 11,438, and Green Party candidate Jason Matyi, who got 857 votes.

Natyshak, who has run unsuccessfully three times in the federal election, credited his experience in helping to lead him to victory at the provincial level. The 33-year-old thanked his campaign volunteers during his victory party held at Grand Central Tavern in Essex.

“We were able to get the vote out. We had over 350 volunteers out today (election day),” he said. “The greatest lesson to everyone is anything that you do in your life never give up.”

With his wife Jennifer, daughter Airika and son Drake by his side the newly elected Member of Provincial Parliament said the biggest difference in this election was very simple.

“We won,” said Natyshak. “We knew the people of the riding and I think they respect my determination and commitment they saw in me.”

Natyshak said he plans on ushering a “new era” of representation in the Essex riding. He stated that he would not only be a voice for the residents who voted for him, but everyone as a whole. He said that he understands the issues that are plaguing the Essex riding and looks forward take them on head on.

“Tomorrow the real work begins,” he said. “We need to bring jobs to the area.”

Natyshak also thanked his opponents for putting their names forward for elected office.

“They (Brister and Schmidt) ran fantastic campaigns. It was a pleasure to run with them.”

With the Liberal government capturing 53 seats in the Ontario Legislature, they will need the support of other parties to govern and Natyshak doesn’t see that as being a problem.

“New Democrats work with anyone,” he said.

The Progressive Conservatives won 37 seats while Natyshak will be one of 17 NDP MPP’s in Queen’s Park.

Natyshak wore two buttons on his suit coat; one for former Essex North and Essex-Kent MPP and Lakeshore Mayor Pat Hayes, who served in Queen’s Park three times between 1985 and 1995, and the other for former NDP federal leader Jack Layton who both died earlier this year.

“This victory tonight is in their memory,” he said.

A shocked PC candidate Dave Brister arrived at Fox Glen Golf Club to thank his supporters and campaign volunteers.

“Certainly we’re disappointed and disappointed for all the residents that put their faith in

PC candidate Dave Brister answers questions for the media at Fox Glenn.

us. We’ll see how things go in the future,” said Brister after arriving at his campaign party at Fox Glen. “We know the people of Essex certainly deserve strong representation and we want to put our full support behind the MPP for Essex, Mr. Taras Natyshak

Despite the results, Brister said he was content with how his campaign unfolded, stating that their strategy worked from the very beginning.

“We got out there and focused our time on doorsteps,” he said. “We’ve done that throughout the campaign, from the very beginning, and I make no apologies for that. I think it was a great way to do it. We did three debates and I think that was our strategy. I think that was the correct way for us to go. I’ll never apologize for going to people’s doorsteps, finding out what they want to see from the government.”

Brister said his team spent time trying to figure out “what went wrong” however, couldn’t pinpoint one particular thing.

“The people of Essex have spoken. They’ve made their decision and we certainly respect that,” he stated.

Brister was welcomed by his supporters with a thunderous applause. He thanked his family, friends and volunteers, stating that he “couldn’t have gotten as far as he did without them” and thanked PC Leader Tim Hudak for running “a tremendous campaign.”

“We have an increased number of seats in parliament, about 50 per cent more than what we had,” said Brister. “We had 25 and we’re at about 37 right now. It’s a tremendous accomplishment.”

Essex MP Jeff Watson who was also in attendance to show his support said it was a disappointing night and stated that it would be “interesting to see what the future holds.”

“It’s not the result we expected by any stretch, but you know, as they say, the voters are always right,” Watson said. “We respect the result and will go forward with Taras Natyshak, the MPP here in Essex, and we’ll see what that brings. I definitely respect the voters decision tonight.”

Watson said election races are “largely unpredictable” and stated “there was a lot of volatility among the electorate in Ontario down the stretch.”

“The race always comes down to who comes out to vote and which teams get their vote out,” he said. You have to give a lot of credit to Taras’ campaign. They did their job. We did the best we could here in Essex.”

Liberal MPP candidate Ken Schmidt was the odd man out as two of the three Liberal candidates celebrated elections wins.

Schmidt settled for third behind NDP’s Natyshak and PC’s Brister

“This has been a great race for me,” he told supporters at the Ciociaro Club. “This has been a great campaign because of the people I had a chance to work with.”

Schmidt said the Liberal platform was “solid,” but stated that Natyshak’s name recognition from his three federal candidacies was a factor. Another factor, said Schmidt, was Brister using Essex MP Jeff Watson’s team during the campaign.

Liberal candiate Ken Schmidt thanks all his supporters at the Ciociaro Club Thursday night.

Schmidt thanked his volunteers for their work during his campaign and also thanked his family, including wife Anita who sat in a wheelchair in front of the stage due to her ALS.

Even though he was questioned during the campaign why he would run despite his wife having ALS, he said his candidacy was a “collective decision by our family because of the cause. It was the Liberal Party cause.”

Schmidt said he focused his campaign around health care, education and jobs and recalled visiting a house in Amherstburg who believed in the Liberals and its health care platform. The daughters of the residents, a Grade 5 student was writing an assignment on the Liberal candidate for school and was able to speak with her. Schmidt recalled getting a hug from the young girl.

“It was the biggest hug because of what the party stands for,” he said

Schmidt wished the new MPP success.

“Taras has been a fighter for the last three federal elections,” said Schmidt. “I have a lot of respect for how Taras Natyshak conducted himself throughout the campaign. He was a gentleman and he is a gentleman and I have a great respect for the man.”

Schmidt added that “I’m very pleased with the Liberal government on their track record of success” and that this region is now recognized in the province whereas under the previous PC governments, the province “ended in London.”   He called this area a “Liberal stronghold” and questioned whether this election’s outcome in Essex was a long-term scenario.

“This was a reaction I don’t think will repeat itself,” said Schmidt.

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