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Barrie-Innisfil NDP hopeful says she'll be back; Liberal candidate 'disappointed' with outcome

'I’m not planning on going dormant after this election. I want to keep pushing. I want to keep fighting the good fight,' says NDP's Aleesha Gostkowski

Lisa-Marie Wilson congratulated the other candidates in Barrie-Innisfil for running respectful campaigns, conceding to Conservative incumbent John Brassard less than two hours after the polls closed Monday night.

“While I am disappointed with the outcome, I am glad that I had the opportunity to run as the Liberal candidate for Barrie-Innisfil,” said Wilson, who did not comment but instead provided a short statement.

With 165 of the 175 polls reporting shortly after 1 a.m., Tuesday, Wilson sat in second place with 11,273 votes, or 29.1 per cent. 

“I would like to thank our campaign’s dedicated volunteers who spent hours canvassing, making calls and being an incredibly hard-working team," she added. "I would also like to thank all other candidates for running respectful campaigns and wish John Brassard all the best."

Wilson was representing the Liberal Party for the second consecutive time, challenging Brassard once again.

But this election was far different than the last one. There were concerns surrounding the pandemic. Wilson also had a personal health issue, prompting her to rely more heavily upon social media to get her message out.

The public school board trustee underwent unexpected surgery Aug. 9 to remove her left kidney where a cancerous tumour was located. The 49-year-old mother of two grown children works in probation and parole. From that perspective, she said she’s experienced first-hand many of the major issues facing local residents.

She cited the pandemic, the economy, affordability and protection of seniors arising from the pandemic as major areas of concern, as well as the opioid crisis.

Wilson moved to the area in 1993 from Toronto and says she’s seen incredible changes in the intervening decades. In addition to the ongoing growth, the community has also become more diverse. Issues involving Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ are often now in the forefront and Wilson would like to see the discussions continue.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Aleesha Gostkowski said her campaign made some headway and she's fully intending to put her name forward once again.

This was Gostkowski’s first time as a candidate for the NDP, but the 24-year-old Cookstown resident says it won’t be her last.

“It’s disappointing, of course, that I didn’t win,” Gostkowski said Monday night. “At the same time, we made real change here. We made some noise. We made some ground here.

“The voter turnout was low. ... It was a really bad time for an election, honestly. And people were feeling unmotivated, they were feeling upset, they didn’t want to come out to vote. One thing I really want to focus on is changing that to make people feel more inspired.”

Gostkowski was a political science student and is now working on her master's degree in social justice studies at Lakehead University.

The mental health crisis facing the community largely prompted her to put her name forward, she previously told BarrieToday. Sustainable development is another of her concerns.

“I’m not planning on going dormant after this election. I want to keep pushing. I want to keep fighting the good fight. I will definitely be planning on running again,” she said.

Gostkowski also remains optimistic about having gained some ground locally for the NDP in the election and that there is momentum for the party here. She said there are plans and ideas for the future, particularly with a provincial election approaching.

And she’s keen on connecting with others who would like to be part of the NDP team.

“I think I did my job in inspiring young people and I will continue to do that every day, because it’s really important to have that representation in politics and to break down those barriers,” Gostkowski said, adding that she’s hoping for electoral reform.

“Politics is for everybody. It should be accessible and it should be a space where everybody’s voice is heard.”

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About the Author: Marg. Bruineman

Marg. Bruineman is an award-winning journalist who focuses on justice issues and human interest stories
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