The final candidate of the three major political parties has been announced for an upcoming byelection in the Preston riding.
Twila Grosse was announced as the PC Party’s candidate in an event in the riding on Tuesday night attended by Premier Tim Houston and members of the PC Caucus.
Grosse worked for 36 years as an accountant for the Halifax International Airport Authority before retiring in 2020.
“I want to share with you that in 2013 the PC Party of Nova Scotia approached me to run in the Preston riding for the provincial election,” Grosse said in her acceptance speech. “After I retired in 2020, my sister, the late Rev. Tracey Grosse said to me, ‘Twila, you are not finished yet. There is still more work for you to do. So, always keep an open mind.’ Well, I never imagined that I would be headed in this direction, but here I am.”
“I wrestled with this decision. I consulted family, friends, colleagues , acquaintances, and, yes, even God, and the answer I received was, ‘Why not?’”
‘I’m representing everybody’
Grosse now joins Liberal candidate Carlos Simmonds and NDP candidate Colter Simmonds, who announced his candidacy last week.
The seat for the Preston riding in the legislature became vacant when Liberal MLA Angela Simmonds resigned on April 1.
Speaking with the Examiner, Houston said that although the byelection has yet to be officially announced, he expects “there’ll be a new MLA for this constituency before the legislature resumes in the fall.”
Houston must call the byelection by Oct. 1.
Similar to the provincial election in 2021, this is now the second time in a provincial election in Atlantic Canada where the Preston riding will be contested by all Black candidates.
“My whole thing is that I’m representing everybody. The Preston riding, only one-third of the population is African Nova Scotian. And so, I’m representing the whole entire riding,” Grosse told the Examiner in an interview following her speech.
“I’m the candidate for Preston. I’m the candidate that happens to be Black. That’s the way I look at it.”
‘This riding is unique’
The community of Preston, which encompasses East Preston, North Preston, Cherry Brook, and Lake Loon, has both the largest number and the largest concentration of Black voters of any other provincial riding in all of Atlantic Canada.
“You see, this riding is unique. We have a rural, suburban, and urban mix. Therefore, the issues in one area may be different than the issues in another. Thus, a one-size approach does not fit all,” Grosse told supporters in her speech.
“What are some of the common issues in this riding? Health care, support for seniors, long-term care, housing needs, improved public transit infrastructure in rural areas, to name a few.”
Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs
Among the many PC caucus members in attendance was Pictou Centre MLA Pat Dunn who, among other portfolios, serves as the Minister of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage and Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.
After the PCs failed to elect a Black candidate in the 2021 provincial election, Dunn and Houston met with members of the Black community who expressed disappointment in Dunn’s appointment as Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.
Speaking with the Examiner, Houston said a decision hasn’t been made as to whether or not Grosse would replace Dunn if she were elected.
“Twila and I talked about this. Look, she’s definitely capable enough, she’s definitely competent enough to be a representative at the cabinet table, for sure. But she said one step at a time. She wants to make sure she can earn the trust of the people of this constituency, earn the respect of the people of this constituency through the election process, and then we’ll go from there,” Houston said.
In a separate interview, Grosse reiterated Houston’s comments.
“I’m not going to say anything about those discussions because my priority is to win the seat first and then we’ll take it from there,” Grosse said. “I’m not going to put the cart before the horse.”