CODE COVID: What the pandemic has taught us about long-term care
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19 today
Continuing coverage: Mass shooting in Nova Scotia
Business Tool Kit 2021
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
The Heroes of 2020
Liberal incumbent Sarah Stoodley is up against the PC's Damian Follett, Andrea Newbury of the NL Alliance and the NDP's Sheilagh O’Leary
The district of Mount Scio will be one to watch in the Feb. 13 provincial general election.
With four strong candidates in the race, three of whom are women, voters will have plenty to think about before going to the polls.
Liberal incumbent Sarah Stoodley will try to hold on to her seat against Progressive Conservative candidate Damian Follett, Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance candidate Andrea Newbury and Sheilagh O’Leary, who is running for the NDP.
The district — with close to 15,000 constituents in parts of St. John’s and Paradise — was created following the 2015 electoral districts boundaries review.
Each of the candidates, who spoke to The Telegram Wednesday, say they have plenty to offer.
A full-time musician, Damian Follett said he’s a people person, is “full of positive energy” and is used to taking a platform to help communicate how people feel.
“All my life, I’ve tried to use music to make the community better,” Follett said. “I believe in giving of yourself through music. It’s the universal language and unites everyone.”
A newcomer to provincial politics, Follett was inspired by his family — particularly his 89-year-old mother, who lives in a long-term seniors’ facility, and his two teenage sons — to throw his hat in the ring.
“I want my two boys to stay here and have opportunities. I want business people to make that plan.”
“Seniors have not been taken care of enough through this pandemic. They experience loneliness and sadness,” he said. “It’s time we give them a voice.”
He also wants better job prospects for the next generation.
“I want my two boys to stay here and have opportunities,” said Follett, who lives in Paradise. “I want business people to make that plan.”
Follett, who also drives a school bus, prides himself as being “one of the regular people” in the community, and said he can make a difference.
(Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance)
A mother of four, Newbury, of Paradise, is also a newcomer to provincial politics, and says it’s time for change.
“I’m putting my name out there because I’m just tired of how our government has been run,” she said. “I feel it’s time to step outside the box and question how we’re operating as a government.”
Some of Newbury’s key areas of focus are small business, job creation, mental health and addictions, democratic and tax reform, and affordable child care.
"I feel it’s time to step outside the box and question how we’re operating as a government.”
“I’m an advocate for not just building buildings and making big announcements (about mental health), but digging deep into the issues,” she said.
Newbury says the election sign campaigns should be a thing of the past.
“It’s an old style of politics that does not use our resources in the best way,” said Newbury, adding that her door-to-door visits are limited to avoid people’s discomfort. “We should be doing everything we can to modernize our politics and think about our environment at the same time.”
(New Democratic Party)
As St. John’s deputy mayor, former Ward 4 city councilor and former St. John's board director of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, O’Leary said she has been an active voice in the community for many years.
“I’m not afraid to speak up and I’ve proven that,” she said. “It’s tough, but it’s necessary and I’m willing to continue doing that. … It’s about being brave and about holding people accountable.”
O’Leary said she is aware of the key issues in the district, including the need for affordable housing, daycare and creating a sustainable economy, as well as help for seniors and everyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the province’s dismal economic situation.
“I’m not afraid to speak up and I’ve proven that. It’s tough, but it’s necessary and I’m willing to continue doing that."
“I’ve been hearing a lot of stories. … It’s not just about the pandemic. This has opened up existing deficiencies and people who are already extremely burdened have been further burdened. The NDP is the voice of the ordinary individual,” she said.
O’Leary said there needs to be more focus on socioeconomic recovery, not just economic recovery.
“Putting all your eggs in one basket makes you very vulnerable,” she said.
Stoodley said she has learned a lot from her year and a half in office.
“Since then, I’ve been helping them every day,” she said of the district's constituents. “They’re my bosses, so I’ve been fighting for things they care about.”
While she’s proud of what’s been accomplished so far, she said what she’s fighting for this time around has changed to better reflect what people want — “There’s always room for improvement.”
"(Constituents) are my bosses, so I’ve been fighting for things they care about.”
Stoodley said she will focus on affordable child care and help for daycare operators, getting financial help for small business, addressing seniors’ unique needs as well as accessible transportation for low-income residents, including a low-income bus program.
Going door to door, Stoodley said, many constituents are also expressing concerns about the high cost of diabetes management.
“I had no idea the exorbitant cost that some families pay to manage their diabetes,” she said. “The insulin pump program we currently have is great and we’ve expanded the program to include funding to cover insulin pumps for families, but I think there’s room to grow that program.”
Rosie Mullaley is a features reporter in St. John’s.