The riding of Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg will continue to carry the Progressive Conservative banner at the Nova Scotia legislature.
Political newcomer Brian Comer won a byelection in the riding on Tuesday night. The PCs have held the riding since 2006, as Comer succeeds MLA Alfie MacLeod who stepped down to run in this fall’s federal election.
With the riding being a Tory stronghold for so long, Comer admitted to feeling a great deal of pressure to continue that trend Tuesday night.
“I think the public is very educated when it comes to electing candidates,” said Comer, 33, of Donkin. “A lot of people I spoke with personally, they wanted to explore the candidate as opposed to the party and I think (Alfie’s) such an excellent community figure that also played a large role and he’s such a difficult act to follow but I think where people got to know me on the doorsteps, that probably helped me.”
- Age: 33
- Hometown: Donkin
- Occupation or experience: registered nurse, mental health and addictions at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. Has worked previously in medical surgical nursing, geriatrics, and acute care.
- Family: Wife, Jennifer (MacSween), daughter, Maria, second child due in January 2020
- Political past or newcomer: Newcomer
Comer had the most votes at 3,215. Marc Botte of the Liberals finished second with 2,306 votes. Independent candidate Russ Green was third with 979 votes, followed by Mary Beth MacDonald of the New Democratic Party at 565 votes. Bill Matheson of the Green Party garnered 287 votes.
Botte, the runner-up in the race and another political newcomer, addressed Comer and the crowd of about 40 PC supporters at the Sydney River Fire Hall on Tuesday night once it became clear the Tory candidate would come out on top.
“At the end of the day, all of us are Cape Bretoners. We all care about our island and we all care about our future,” said Botte, a 35-year-old Marion Bridge native, who is a managing partner with 902 Advertising Group. “I look forward to working with Brian as a private citizen to further our interests and do the best we can for this place.”
Comer is a registered nurse with mental health and addictions at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. He also worked in medical surgical nursing, geriatrics and acute care.
“For the people of Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg, I’d just like to let them know I’m very approachable, very knowledgeable with the healthcare system,” he said. “I’m very down to earth, I’ll work hard for them and I hope if they have issues and concerns, they feel more than comfortable to come and speak with me because I will represent them strongly in Halifax.”
There were three byelections held in the province on Tuesday night. Northside-Westmount and Argyle-Barrington also went Tory blue. Former PC MLA Eddie Orrell showed his approval for the night’s results by waiving a broom as he entered the fire hall to represent his party’s sweep at the polls.
PC leader Tim Houston said with the change of the guard in Cape Breton came opportunity.
“I’ve been knocking on doors for the past month in your communities and I’ve been hearing over and over about the concerns about access to healthcare, economy and opportunities for people to live in Cape Breton and be able to come back here or stay here,” he told the crowd. “I know Cape Bretoners are concerned about that, but I also know that you have two new excellent MLAs that will advocate for you in Province House.”
VOTES (45/45 polls reported)
- Brian Comer, PC 3,215
- Marc Botte, LIB 2,306
- Russ Green, IND 979
- Mary Beth MacDonald, NDP 565
- Bill Matheson, GRN 287
Number of registered electors: 15,098
Total number of valid votes cast: 7,352
Total number of rejected: 25
Percentage of voter turnout: 48.86 per cent