The proposed change in electoral boundaries has made Goulds chiropractor Dr. Jeff Marshall switch the focus of his election bid from Kilbride District to Ferryland.
Under the proposed changes, Kilbride would be eliminated with much of the district to fall under a new riding called Waterford Valley. Ferryland District, meanwhile, would stretch northwards, albeit slightly. It would run from St. Shotts, as it does currently, to the Ruby Line in the Goulds.
Marshall had previously won the Liberal nomination for Kilbride district. The Goulds makes up approximately 40 per cent of the population of the newly adjusted district of Ferryland. Petty Harbour – Maddox Cove makes up a further eight percent, meaning the north end of the district will be a key battleground among the candidates for the Liberal and New Democratic parties and the incumbent, Keith Hutchings of the Progressive Conservatives. Bay Bulls to Tors Cove comprises about 27 per cent of the district’s population, while Brigus South to Cappahayden has about 18 per cent of the vote and Portugal Cove South to St. Shotts, which includes Trepassey and Biscay Bay, has about seven per cent.
The figures may actually be skewed a little higher in the Bay Bulls to Tors Cove area. The population counts are based on the 2011 census. In the four years since then, Bay Bulls and Witless Bay has seen considerable residential growth.
Marshall said what now comprises Kilbride district will be split four ways, if the plan proposed by the Electoral Boundaries Commission is passed by the legislature. Kilbride proper would be rolled into the district of Waterford Valley, Brookfield Plains into St. John’s West, Southlands into Mount Pearl – Southlands, and the remaining part of the Goulds that wasn’t already part of Ferryland would be added to that district.
“I was surprised,” Marshall said of the proposal. “But to be honest, I think the changes really make sense with the Goulds being all together and there is a lot of historical connection between the Goulds and Petty Harbour and the Southern Shore. I was surprised, but you’ve just got to roll with it and run in the district that feels most like home.”
Marshall spent a lot of time the past two years campaigning, first for the Liberal nomination in Kilbride, and then for the seat itself. Kilbride is held by PC MHA John Dinn. Marshall said his work in Kilbride won’t be wasted. “Ultimately the goal is to elect as many Liberal MHAs as possible so we can have a better government after the next election under Dwight Ball. So other candidates will benefit from the work that I’ve done there. We really had a team effort…”
Asked to identify the most important issues in Ferryland district, Marshall said infrastructure is important in the Goulds, as are the same issues that are important across the province, including health care, education and employment. “Newfoundland just officially booked its 17th straight month of job losses,” Marshall noted, “and there’s a lot of economic uncertainty, so we need a solid plan going forward… As far as further up the Shore, I’m working right now to try to set up meetings with municipal leaders and community leaders in the area to make sure that I’m very up on the issues in that area. Through my involvement with the Irish Loop Chamber of Commerce I’ve gotten to know quite a few people and I think I’ve got a good idea of the issues, but I want to make sure I’m consulting people who are in the area and who are involved in those communities to make sure I have a solid handle on everything.”
Marshall said he is not intimidated by the notion Ferryland is one of perhaps three or four districts where the PCs might retain a seat. “I know Keith a little bit and I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” said Marshall. “I think he’s a great person. But I’m just focussing on putting myself out there to the people of Ferryland district and giving them a solid choice. I think the fact that it seems to be such a safe PC seat can be sometimes a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy and it might make it a little intimidating for someone to put the work in and put themselves out there as a Liberal candidate for that reason. I’m just going in there, concentrating on what the issues are for the people in the district and working hard to make sure everyone knows who I am and what I stand for and really get a reputation as a hard worker. It’s really just to give the people what they need and that is a solid choice so that when they go to cast their vote they’ll know there is a committed candidate who’s an alternative for their vote.”
Marshall said since announcing his intention to run for the Liberal nomination in Ferryland he has been pleasantly surprised by people who have reached out from different parts of the district offering to join his campaign.
“I think a lot of people are excited to have a candidate who has committed so early to the district and who is willing to put the work in,” he said. “I think I’ve proven in the last year with my work in Kilbride that I’m not afraid of hard work and that I’m willing to be visible and vocal on things when necessary. And I think people are just excited to have the option, an alternative, because the perception is down there that a lot of people didn’t expect to have a Liberal candidate until the very last minute and a lot of them thought it might be a name on a ballot. So I think there is a lot of excitement there knowing that it will be a race and a very well contested campaign. It should be great for the people of Ferryland, because they’ll actually get to discuss issues. I’m hoping that we can have a candidates’ debate during the election and things like that, something that may have been missing in the last couple of election cycles.”
Marshall said he would welcome a contested nomination for the Liberal nod, because it’s important to test your campaign organization. “It also gives you an opportunity to reach out to a lot of new people,” he said. “I found the contested nomination was very helpful for that reason in Kilbride district.
While his party got the PCs to agree to an amendment to hold an election this year as part of the deal to pass the legislation setting up the Boundary Commission, Marshall allowed the vote could be delayed into next year. The whole point of Premier Paul Davis introducing Bill 42 was to delay the election in the first place, he wagered. “So I wouldn’t be too surprised if they try to delay the election even further,” Marshall said, “but I think the people of the province are ready for an election and that public pressure will be enough to make sure that they call it in the fall of 2015.”
Marshall is married to Christa Mallay, who along with being his wife is also a fellow chiropractor and a partner in their business at Bidgood’s Plaza. The couple have a 13 month old son, John. Along with being a Liberal candidate, Marshall is also a member of the Goulds Lions Club and a former treasurer of the provincial Liberal Party. He spent the past year as president of the Irish Loop Chamber of Commerce.