Chatham-Kent-Leamington PC MPP Rick Nicholls greets supporters after winning a seat for a third consecutive election. (Photo by Matt Weverink)

Rick Nicholls Reelected In Chatham-Kent-Leamington

For the third consecutive provincial election, Progressive Conservative candidate Rick Nicholls has been chosen to represent voters in Chatham-Kent-Leamington.

There’s one major difference this time around, though.

After serving two terms as a member of the opposition, Nicholls is now a member of the ruling party as the PC party will rule Ontario with a strong majority.

“The view is going to be a whole lot different,” said Nicholls. “It’s going to be interesting now that the NDP are the official opposition — the Liberals on the other hand┬átotally collapsed.”

This time, Nicholls finished with his highest ever vote total — taking in an estimated 24,070 votes for just shy of 52% of the total votes that were cast in the riding (46,358).

He was challenged by NDP candidate Jordan McGrail, who finished second in the riding with 16,558 votes. Liberal candidate Margaret Schleier┬áStahl finished a distant third (3,736 votes) with the Green Party’s Mark Vercouteren (1,636 votes) and Independent candidate Drew Simpson (358 votes) coming in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Nicholls admits it was a very hard-fought campaign this time around.

“Things got a little testy sometimes in debates, but that’s what debate is for,” said Nicholls. “So long as no one ever took anything personal, that’s just the way the game is played — and sometimes the game can get a little dirty.”

With another strong showing of support for the PC party in Chatham-Kent-Leamington, Nicholls says he is confident that loyalty will be rewarded.

“For the last 15 years, even the Liberal government turned its back on this riding and I think that’s extremely unfair,” said Nicholls. “A lot of the revenue that’s collected from this part of the province went to Toronto for transit, major infrastructure projects, I want to see that money come down this way now.”

Nicholls says concrete barriers on the Hwy. 401 and the possible twinning of Hwy. 3 in Essex County are two major projects he will be pushing for the province to support now that his party is in power.