Candidates vying for voter support in waning days of election campaign

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TRURO - There are very noticeable, even audible, differences between the last provincial election and this one, Lenore Zann says.

There is no shortage of campaign signs in the Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River riding to remind voters of their election choices for the area's next MLA. But with election day coming up on Tuesday, time is running out for undecided electors to make up their minds.

"I feel more comfortable now but to put it in a nutshell, in 2009 people would come up to me and they would whisper and say: ‘Hey Lenore, I'm going to vote for you but don't tell anyone,'" the incumbent MLA for the Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River riding said, in a hushed tone. "And this time people are going: ‘Hey Lenore, I'm voting for you, you know, you're the one and you're going back in," she said, raising her voice to highlight the difference. "And, by the way, put a sign on my lawn.'"

Zann became a novice MLA in the 2009 provincial election following a 30-year acting career.

But despite her lack of political experience, she believes her accomplishments over the past few years have garnered enough of a following and a reputation for working hard for her constituents that she stands a good chance at once more being successful in the polls.

"I feel optimistic that the people that I've helped (will support me)," she said. "I think that kind of reputation is a good one and that is what people will hopefully base their decisions on."

And Zann said her campaign efforts have been concentrated solely on her own track record as opposed to waging a negative battle against first-time provincial candidates Barry Mellish for the Liberals and Charles Cox for the Progressive Conservatives,

"It's like running a marathon," she said. "You don't look at the competitors around you. If you are going to do that then you are going to fall behind.

I will just keep my eye on the goal. I know where I'm going, I've got it fixed in my mind and I don't let anything distract me."

Zann pointed to her efforts at helping to garner political attention and emergency funding for victims of last year's major flooding, along with her work in the areas of affordable housing, trying to save the Truro Raceway from closing and ensuring the arts field continues to "flourish and grow" as some of the triumphs during the first term in office.

"And I think people have been very grateful for that," she said, speaking specifically on the flooding issue. "Bringing the premier in the very next morning, he was on his way to China, but I said, ‘please come to Truro to see what is going on. You need to look people in the face to see the anguish. We need to do something. This is our moment to do something.' And he did."

From Cox's perspective, however, that is not enough and he points to the fact that the Access Nova Scotia building in downtown Truro is being moved to Truro Heights as one area where Zann failed at protecting her constituency interests. But the biggest issue, he said, is with the overall direction that has been set by the Darrell Dexter-led government.

"People are dissatisfied - there is no question about that," Cox said, of message he is receiving on the doorsteps of his campaign. "From the local perspective, it's across the board. They're dissatisfied with the Dexter administration," he said.

"There were a lot of failed policies during the first four years and now we've got a bunch of promises that won't take place till after the election is over. So, people are mistrusting because of the promises that were broken the last time."

An example of that, Cox said, was the two-cent hike in the HST that was implemented shortly after the NDP took office, after having earlier promised there would be no tax hikes.

Mellish said he also has concerns with the a lack of direction from the NDP on issues such as general health care, wait times for health care assistance and a shortage of doctors, which combine to add to the overall wait times, especially given the area's aging population.

"What we have right now isn't working," he said, of what some believe is a bloated administration in the health system that takes away from front-line patient car.

"When something isn't working it needs to be changed."

Several randomly polled constituency residents, who did not want their identities used, offered various responses when asked how they intend to vote on Tuesday.

"I'm undecided," said one Truro woman who voted NDP in the last election. "The only thing I'm thinking, if the province goes Liberal I'd like to vote Liberal."

The one thing she was sure of, the woman said, is that she would not be voting NDP this time around.

Another Truro woman, who has already marked her ballot in advance of the election, said although she does not know the local PC candidate, she voted for the Conservatives because of the party's platform promises to lower taxes, such as the HST and the gasoline tax, because of the premise that will improve the economy.

"Which I believe," she said. "I think making higher taxes, we will spend less money."

One Bible Hill resident, however, said while her decision has not fully been made, she is leaning towards supporting Zann because of the attention the incumbent MLA gives to local issues.

Zann is hoping there are enough like-minded voters to give her a chance at a second term as their MLA. But, if that is not the case when the votes are tallied Tuesday night, she will accept the voters' decision and move on.

"The people are my boss," Zann said. "So if the people decide they want to keep me and they want to keep me working for them I'm happy to keep working for them. But if they choose that they don't want me to and they want someone else, that's OK too. That's the people's decision. That's democracy."

Twitter: @tdnharry

Truro - Bible Hill - Millbrook - Salmon River

candidate bios:

Name: Barry Mellish

Party - Liberal

Age - 62

Married - Wife's name is Sandy

Resides - Truro

Occupation: Retired from RCMP

Name: Charles

Age: 64

Married: Wife's name is June

Resides: Truro

Occupation: Lawyer

NAME - Lenore Zann

Age: 53

Marital status: Single

Resides: Truro

Occupation (before politics): actress


Organizations: Progressive Conservatives, NDP, Access Nova Scotia RCMP

Geographic location: Truro, Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River, China Millbrook Salmon River

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