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Randy Pettapiece wins Perth-Wellington riding

by Mike Robinson

PERTH-WELLINGTON - It was an election where every vote mattered.

One could be justified in comparing last night’s election to a horse race with Progressive Conservative Randy Pettapiece winning  by a nose.

It was a back-and-forth lead from the minute the polls started to trickle in.

From those first few polls, incumbent Liberal John Wilkinson trailed Pettapiece by just over few votes while the NDP, Green and FCP trailed behind.

As more polls came in Pettapiece gained momentum.

Throughout the night, it was only the distance of a few hundred votes, sometimes as less than 10 as more votes came in.

Even so, the early voting split was 40.55 [PC] versus 37.76 [LIB] - almost the reverse of the provincial percentages.

Each poll seemed to shift the tide throughout the night as the lead shifted back and forth between Wilkinson and Pettapiece.

One could not really define it a clear victory for either candidate throughout the night as the matter of a few polls would swing the shift.  Each of the top two candidates were pulling in nearly 40 per cent of the vote.

But voting results clearly put the Green Party, the Family Coalition and Freedom Party as fringe parties ...  none topping 3% of the voting public.

By 10pm the Liberal victory seemed assured, even though the race in Perth-Wellington as not.

Shortly after 10:16pm, Wilkinson moved ahead by 92 votes with roughly two-thirds of the votes tallied.

A few minutes, and a few minutes later,  Pettapiece was again in the lead.

Perth-Wellington seemed to be the riding where the party colours representing the riding shifted every 10 to 15 minutes.

In the end, Perth-Wellington was one of the last in Ontario to provide a confirmed victory, even though the provincial outcome was assured.

Oddly, even as Wilkinson trailing, his percentage of favour by voters remained higher than the provincial average.

In the end it was a narrow victory for Pettapiece with 40.6% of the votes compared to Wilkinson’s 38.8% - 620 vote difference amongst 35.00 ballots cast. 

Wilkinson won this riding twice and served revenue minister, point person for the HST, environment minister, spokesman for Dalton McGuinty’s Green Energy Act.

Unofficial tallies:

PC Randy Pettapiece 14282

LIB John Wilkinson 13652

NDP Ellen Papenberg 5,596

GRN Chris Dejardins 877

FCP Irma DeVries 611

FPO Robby Smink 158

The end result is that Perth-Wellington defeated Ontario’s Minister of Environment and joined the ranks of most of rural Ontario in bringing in Conservative candidates while many urban ridings elected Liberal representatives.

It also means the riding will now be represented by a rookie MPP in the opposition side of the house.

Randy Pettapiece

To say Pettapiece was pleased with last night’s results would be more than an understatement.

In his election remarks, Pettapiece said “I can probably sum up my thoughts tonight in two simple words – Thank you!”

He said he was honoured to be able to serve the residents of Perth-Wellington at Queen’s Park.

To his supported, Pettapiece  commented, “This has been a long and hard campaign, but we’ve also had a lot of fun along the way.  And I hope that you all enjoyed this campaign as much as I did.”

He said throughout the riding, people were always welcoming and sincere in expressing their concerns.

“The people of Perth-Wellington wanted change, and today we delivered on that change.”

“Now,” he said, “the hard work begins as we work to build the kind of Ontario that we can all be proud of.”

As he thanked his supporters, he said it was their hard work which led to his win.

“I hope that I can begin repay your hard work with honest and sincere service as your new MPP.”

To my family, “I thank you for all the support that you have given me over the past 12 months since this adventure first began.”

Pettapiece added that he was I am ready and excited to work on behalf of Perth-Wellington regardless of the composition of the incoming Legislature.

“I’d like to take a moment to congratulate John Wilkinson on having served this community for the past 8 years.  While we may not have agreed on many issues, I respect his work and I wish him and his family all the best in their future endeavours.”

“To the other candidates – Ellen, Chris, Irma, and Robby, I say congratulations on a good campaign. We live in a great democracy and I was honoured to have run in this election with such worthy fellow candidates.”

Finally, Pettapiece recognitzed all those who cast ballots in Perth-Wellington.

“I will work hard to be the MPP for all of you, regardless of how you voted.”

During a Friday morning telephone interview with the Wellington Advertiser, Pettapiece said elt good, despite the late night.

The contest ended late in the night, because the results were that close, he said.

But a close race was something had anticipated, especially since Wilkinson had served as Perth-Wellington’s MPP for eight years and also as a cabinet minister for the provincial government.

Even so, the win was a bit of a surprise, leading him to be a bit nervous heading into the new role of Perth-Wellington MPP.

But heading into that, one of his big concerns locally will be dealing with the wind turbine issue and the Green Energy Act.

“I am going to encourage my party to continue its efforts to make changes.”

At the same time, he wanted to continue encouragement of the Risk Management Program to help farm families.

But there are other areas which need addressed as well, he said.

“Even up to the last day of knocking on doors, there were concerns about provincial energy policies.”

He said there people using smart meters, who’d seen hydro bills skyrocket, even though they’d not really changed the way they were using hydro.

Pettapiece said high energy costs are also having an impact on local industry as well.

“It’s getting to the point where it is too expensive for businesses to operate in Ontario. We need to make sure the manufacturing sector has affordable energy.”

While somewhat disappointed with the overall provincial results, “the voters have spoken,” Pettapiece said.

He fully intends to be part of his party’s strong voice in the opposition and believes the Conservatives will be able to work together in the new minority government.

Pettapiece also provided a positive nod to Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott and anticipates having his guidance in the coming weeks.

“Ted’s been very supportive and encouraged me to keep at it throughout the campaign.”

But, in the short term, Pettapiece intends to take the Thanksgiving weekend off to spend with his family.

John Wilkinson

In a brief telephone call to Wilkinson’s campaign manager Amber Anderson Friday morning, she noted that Wilkinson might not be giving interviews, but that she would get in touch to let me know.

No further comment was made.

The London Free Press wrote that after arriving at his campaign get-together after the polls closed, Wilkinson sequestered himself in a private room, declining to speak with reporters.

Irma DeVries

Prepared for all occasions, Irma DeVries wrote letters of congratulations to the top three contenders ... just in case.

She stated “I know he will be more conscientious with the taxpayer’s dime than the current government.”

She encouraged Pettapiece to help “make the difficult decisions to put our province back on track with boldness and courage.”

DeVries further encouraged all citizens to get more involved in the political process as politics affects every aspect of our lives – from where we live, work, and play, from our health care, economy and education.

“I am happy to be able to say that I ran a clean campaign.  It was an opportunity to stand up for families – the basic building block of a strong society.”

October 7, 2011


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