News Local

Liberals officially make Marshall candidate in Simcoe-North

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Simcoe County Warden and Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall, centre, is surrounded by local municipal councillors Sunday, as he was acclaimed as Simcoe-North's Liberal candidate for the 2018 provincial election. Joining the municipal politicians are Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon, far left, and Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth, far right.

Simcoe County Warden and Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall, centre, is surrounded by local municipal councillors Sunday, as he was acclaimed as Simcoe-North's Liberal candidate for the 2018 provincial election. Joining the municipal politicians are Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon, far left, and Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth, far right.

Nearly six dozen well wishers could have been anywhere else in Simcoe County Sunday, enjoying a picture perfect warm fall day.

But they - a group that included 11 members of municipal councils from the area - chose to be in Midland to show their support for Gerry Marshall, who was acclaimed as the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for the Simcoe-North riding.

He appreciated that.

“It's astounding,” he said. “I couldn't be more grateful and more proud of a campaign kick-off like this. There's a good energy in the room, a good buzz. You can feel it.”

Brian Johns, president of the Ontario Liberal Party, also took notice of the number of Marshall's municipal colleagues in the room. He said having a strong candidate with equally strong established ties to the riding was “critical” for the Liberals.

“Gerry's incredible,” Johns said. “The amount of elected public servants that were here today just demonstrates how great of a guy he is and the connections he's made over the years, as well as getting jobs done.”

Marshall, the warden of Simcoe County and mayor of Penetanguishene, was quickly acclaimed in the formal portion of the meeting, nominated by Dave Ritchie, who serves as the deputy mayor of Tay Township, and Dr. Kim Fedderson, the former principal of Lakehead University's Orillia campus. Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon both spoke in support of Marshall's candidacy.

Fred Larsen, president of the Simcoe-North Liberals, and multi-time former candidate, lauded Marshall as one of the strongest Liberal candidates the riding has fielded.

“He comes with such a track record of accomplishment,” Larsen said. “He's a guy that does things (and) works for people in this county. As warden and as mayor of Penetanguishene, he's brought people together and as Eleanor McMahon said in her speech, I think that's how things get done. He's just a natural at doing that.”

Marshall spoke briefly to those in attendance at the meeting in an acceptance speech. At times, he was focused hyper-local, specifically bringing up needs and success stories for the communities in the riding, such as his desire to see the province's French language university built in Penetanguishene or the recent announcement of more than $700,000 to help Weber Manufacturing in Midland.

But he often spoke more as the warden of the county, viewing Simcoe County as a whole, not part of five different provincial ridings. He's confident that leading up to when the writ is dropped, he'll be able to juggle his three distinct roles.

“At the end of the day, whether I'm wearing my mayor's hat or my warden's hat, it's all about the County of Simcoe,” Marshall said. “That conversation is relatively easy for me. The county is 18 municipalities, one warden. I don't plan to change that conversation. I'll continue to work for all of the County of Simcoe to deliver good things.”

Johns said the nomination processes in Simcoe County's other ridings are “going well,” but was non-committal to when those candidates will be selected.

pbales@postmedia.com

@patrickbales