WESTVILLE — Tim Houston has the overwhelming support of voters in Pictou East.
The Progressive Conservative candidate garnered nearly 75 per cent of the votes to return as its MLA to help the party gain more strength in the legislature.
An enthusiastic crowd joined him during a victory celebration at the Walter Duggan school gym on Tuesday as returns showed the incumbent Liberals under Premier Stephen McNeil with a majority.
Early results showed Houston winning virtually every poll in Pictou East, but he said he took nothing for granted during the campaign.
“The campaign is always a grind, but there were more highs than lows,” he said.
Houston said the core issues in Pictou East are similar to those throughout the province — jobs, health care, education and road repairs.
“We need to recruit and retain doctors,” he said. “We need a tax structure that will attract business and build the economy. We need to regain a relationship with teachers. We need a teaching environment where teachers can teach and students can learn.”
Houston said a reduced majority government means the Liberals will be more accommodating.
“The issues are known,” he said. “We have to get to work on solving them.”
Houston praised the campaign team that he said helped him cover the riding and shared his concerns with people in Pictou East.
“We had a wicked team,” he said. “People were coming forth to help. I’d say we had about 40 people volunteering. The core was the same but it got bigger. I’m excited about the support.”
Liberal candidate John Fraser said he phone-messaged congratulations to Houston and expressed his hope that he will continue to do a good job.
“I would have rather done better but the people have spoken,” he said. “For the sake of the party and the campaign team, I enjoyed every day, every hour and every minute of the campaign. It was quite the experience.”
He said he agreed with the Liberals’ position to balance the books in order to pay for the programs Nova Scotians expect.
“I tried to bring that point to the forefront,” he said. “The Liberals campaigned on that. The electorate brought other issues to the forefront. We need a solid financial foundation to offer that, but the people have spoken. The three returning MLAs are working hard and the people appreciate their efforts.”
NDP candidate Deborah Stiles phoned Houston with congratulations. She said she was elated with her party’s improvement in the seat count.
“I would like to have done a bit better, but I think the conversation has started around areas of the province,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful experience and I was delighted I was asked to run. The NDP is playing a role in Nova Scotia like the NDP and the Greens are in B.C. It means the agenda can shift, and I find this a very fascinating process.”