Progressive Conservative Ross Romano will be representing Sault Ste. Marie as MPP in a second straight Doug Ford majority government.
Romano - with 12,606 votes and 46.9 per cent of votes cast - defeated NDP candidate Michele McCleave-Kennedy who had 10,029 votes and pulled in 37.3 per cent of the vote in Thursday’s provincial election.
Four other candidates, including Liberal Liam Hancock, independent candidate Naomi Sayers, New Blue Party candidate Shane Pankhurst and the Green Party’s Keagan Gilfillan each took in less than 10 per cent of votes cast.
“It’s been quite a fun five years, it’s been a fun campaign and I look forward to representing you all again,” said Romano to supporters at Quattro on Thursday evening.
Romano was first elected as Sault MPP in a 2017 by-election and reelected when Ford’s PCs took power in 2018.
“It’s an indication of the work that we have put in in Sault Ste. Marie. I think it’s a demonstration by the people of Sault Ste. Marie that they have faith in the work that we’ve done and they want to see four more years of getting more done for Sault Ste. Marie,” Romano said, speaking to SooToday when asked to comment on his victory.
“I think it’s a matter of reacting to every opportunity that presents itself. We didn’t know that there was going to be an opportunity to build a National Indigenous Reconciliation Centre when I first ran. We didn’t know there was going to be an opportunity for a twin pad arena, we didn’t know about a lot of the opportunities that were going to present themselves but as the windows opened we jumped through them,” Romano said, reflecting on his first four years in government.
He served as Minister of Colleges and Universities then as Minister of Government and Consumer Services in Ford’s first PC government.
“I think one of the most important things is to get a medical school in Sault Ste. Marie. We know we have some challenges with health care and I want to see a medical school in the Sault,” Romano said, looking forward to his second term as a government MPP.
Romano said there is a memorandum of understanding with NOSM to build a campus in the Sault.
“We want to be able to look at opportunities in the advanced research sector. We want to look at mental health and addictions in a new way. I’ve been talking a lot about this for quite some time now. Certainly, those are some goals. We just want to see more infrastructure improvements, more improvements to our roads, our highways, it's so critical in northern Ontario. We want to see a lot more job growth continuing here. We want more getting it done for Sault Ste. Marie.”
Romano said he expects the Progressive Conservatives to pass their budget - announced shortly before the election was called in early May - after the next government is sworn in and the Legislature sits in the fall.
“I think obviously we have to do that and that will happen in due course. Right now I think we’re going to enjoy this moment and look at all the next workings of government in the near future,” Romano said, stating time spent with family after the election campaign is in order.
Romano arrived at Quattro and was greeted by his wife Heather, family members and supporters at approximately 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
National media sources projected a Doug Ford Progressive Conservative majority government at 9:15 p.m.
Not long after, Andrea Horwath’s NDP was called as the Official Opposition.
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca failed to win his seat in Vaughan-Woodbridge for the second straight election and resigned from his party’s leadership.
Horwath, after her fourth campaign as Ontario NDP leader, also announced she would be passing the torch as leader.
Romano beat NDP candidate McCleave-Kennedy by a much closer margin of 414 votes in 2018.
The Sault riding had been called one of the ridings to watch by national media outlets in the 2022 election.