Shawn Skinner loses seat to NDP

Gerry Rogers becomes first openly gay MHA in the province

Published on October 11, 2011
NDP candidate Gerry Rogers wins in St. John's Centre.

PC candidate Shawn Skinner has lost his seat in St. John’s Centre, with the majority of votes being pulled in by NDP candidate Gerry Rogers.

Skinner supporters, having gathered at the Benevolent Irish Society in St. John’s, grew increasingly unnerved as the polls rolled in.

Skinner conceded to Rogers at 9 p.m.

He wished Rogers “all the best.” He thanked all of his supporters, but in particular his family, who he said he would be spending some more time with in the near future.

“I have to be honest, I never, ever felt like I was trailing. I always felt like Ms. Rogers was biting at my heels, I always felt like the NDP were certainly going to be a force, but never did I feel like we’ve lost the momentum,” Skinner later told reporters. “And you know as a candidate, I’ve been in ... this is my fourth election, (and) I think I have a good feel for that. So, I’m a little bit surprised tonight. But again I’m humbled by the number of people who did vote for me and I accept the decision that the people have made. I have no regrets in that regard.”

Skinner said he would like the Dunderdale government to continue social investments such as those he said have been made to date in housing and community groups.

Rogers arrived at NDP headquarters at the Sheraton hotel to loud chants at gathering Sheraton.

“It all feels a little surreal,” said the new MHA.

Rogers not only defeated a cabinet minister but she becomes the first openly gay MHA.

“I am very proud to be able to loudly declare that I am a lesbian that I have a very loving partner and that I am the first out MHA in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Rogers said, adding her win came on International Coming Out Day.

“I am so proud. I am so proud for all the gays and lesbians in our province who have worked so hard for us to come to this moment. Because it was a hard road for many, many years. Still many of our young people are bullied in school.”

Rogers and her partner, businesswoman Peg Norman, have been together for nearly 20 years.

Rogers pledged to take on a range of social issues, including matters affecting seniors.