Colter Simmonds will run as the NDP candidate for the Preston riding in the upcoming byelection. The announcement was made at a community event Thursday night.

Simmonds, who is a basketball coach and community youth advocate, ran for the NDP in the same riding in the 2021 provincial election.

In his speech Thursday, Simmonds said the Liberals and PCs also approached him to be their candidate in the last election before he eventually decided to run for the NDP.

“I didn’t have any intention to be a politician. But here I am again and not only did the party believe in me but two people who are no longer with me believed in me,” Simmonds told a room full of supporters during his speech Thursday.

He talked about the ones he called his “two biggest supporters,” his Uncle Prime-time, and his mother Charlotte Simmonds, who he said encouraged him to run again after former MLA Angela Simmonds announced in January that she was resigning April 1.

“Our young people are going to be my number one priority because these are your nieces, your nephews, your children. Those are the ones that are gonna take care of this community when I’m walking around with my walker, with my wheelchair. I want them to remember, ‘That’s the guy that made opportunities for me.’”

He now joins business owner Carlos Simmonds, who the Liberals announced as their candidate last month. The PCs have yet to announce a candidate.

Archy Beals, who ran for the PCs in 2021, previously told the Examiner he would not be seeking the nomination in the byelection.

Beals and Colter Simmonds lost in the last election to Angela Simmonds.

The byelection has yet to be called. By law, it must be called within six months of the seat’s vacancy and the campaign must be between 30 and 45 days.

‘My role is to win this election’

Among Colter Simmonds’ supporters in attendance Thursday was Yvonne Atwell, who was the NDP MLA for the area riding from 1998-1999.

Other than Atwell and David Hendsbee, who was the area riding’s PC MLA from 1999-2003, the area’s riding has been served by Liberal MLAs for the past 30 years.

The PCs hold a majority government with 31 of the 55 seats in the legislature, which means they will maintain a majority government no matter who wins the byelection.

Simmonds says he still intends to encourage people to come out and vote.

“One thing I’ve learned in the two years is that we have to educate the community about the role of the MLA. So, when a party is in power the role of the MLA is to support the people with their issues right here and now,” he said.

“Right now my role is to win this election, help the people that have light bills, their childcare, the things that I can support and advocate for on their behalf. Show them that I’m here to work for them, and then when the next [provincial election] comes around… then we’ll be able to create the policies that will guide us to better the whole province.“

‘Colter is going to fight’

NDP leader Claudia Chender was at Thursday’s event and said she and Simmonds have known each other since before she entered into politics.

“Colter is going fight to make sure that everyone in this community has access to healthy and affordable food, through initiatives that we’ve been fighting for like creating a universal school food program. Making sure that small affordable grocers can open. And with a few grocery stores in the area, removing the rules that prevent the opening of those kind of stores. We know this is a need, we hear this everywhere we go.”

“We know that with Colter in our caucus we will continue to press the government to address environmental racism, uneven access to justice, housing, education, health care, and employment. We know that these are your issues and you know that Colter’s going to fight for them.”  

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Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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  1. By-elections are an important barometre on how a sitting government is performing. I will be watching the results here with great interest, as I think the Premier will be.