Jon Gerrard will continue his decades-long career representing River Heights on Broadway after a commanding result on election night.
Gerrard, 71, was re-elected by voters in River Heights on Sept. 10 with 5,038 ballots cast in his favour, or 54 per cent, according to unofficial results.
"I’m very happy to be re-elected, and I want to thank my wife and my team that worked so hard, and the people of River Heights for their continuing support," Gerrard said.
"I love working in the legislature and helping people and being there to be part of debates over the future of Manitoba."
Following the 2018 Electoral Boundaries commission, the constituency of River Heights was realigned to include neighbourhoods previously represented by the NDP in Fort Rouge and Fort Garry-Riverview. Those changes did not factor heavily into the results, with Gerrard holding onto the popular vote. In 2016, the incumbent earned 5,230 votes, or 51.68 per cent.
"One of the things I had to do this time around was to spend a lot of time in the newer areas that had just become part of River Heights because people didn’t know me," he said. "I knew I had to emphasize those new areas and get to know people."
Gerrard said his campaign in the community was an amazing opportunity to reconnect with old neighbours and meet the new folks he’ll be representing at the legislature.
"We develop a platform over several years and we have a lot of diverse input, but this is a very intense time of learning, meeting people, and of getting individual stories and individual experiences and putting them together and trying to help people," Gerrard said.
The longtime Liberal will be heading into the fall session as one of three Grits. Despite the party losing one seat and official party status, Gerrard said the Liberals had strong support under the leadership of Dougald Lamont. The other two Liberal MLAs-elect are Lamont in St. Boniface and Cindy Lamoureux in Tyndall Park.
"Clearly, this time around, compared to 2016, the feedback was very positive," said Gerrard. "The campaign in 2016 was exciting at times, but it was clearly more difficult on the ground.
"With a larger team, with official party status, with more resources, we were able to do things in greater depth."
With a sixth mandate, Gerrard is the second-longest serving MLA, after Myrna Driedger (PC) who was re-elected in Roblin on Sept. 10. Gerrard was first elected in the 1999 general election and has held the position for 20 consecutive years.
Susan Boulter, a retired public servant, earned the runner-up position in the race for River Heights, with 2,276 votes.
"You want to win when you run and that’s what I really wanted to do to have some representation for River Heights but you have to respect the voters," Boulter said.
The 61-year-old put her name forward for public office with the Progressive Conservatives for the first time after working 35 years with the provincial government. Boulter retired from the civil service, as chief operating officer of the Vital Statistics Agency, about five years ago.
She thanked her campaign manager and volunteers and said her experience in the community was positive. She was also pleased to see the PCs receive a majority mandate.
"I think it was a strong endorsement that people care about how the government is run, and that it is financially and effectively managed," she said. "That’s all I asked for."
Manitoba New Democratic candidate Jonathan Niemczak carried the party to a third-place finish in the riding with 1,346 votes.
The Green Party of Manitoba’s Nathan Zahn rounded out the pack with 661 votes.
Voter turnout in River Heights was 57.1 per cent.
Danielle Da Silva