Progressive Conservative incumbent Ross Romano was elected Sault Ste. Marie’s MPP following the 2018 provincial elections, with Doug Ford as Ontario’s new premier in a PC-majority government.
This marks the end of 15 years of Liberal government in Ontario.
PC supporters gathered anxiously at the Marconi Club as the results rolled in on Thursday night. Romano showed up after 9:00pm, having been out knocking on doors and encouraging people to go out and vote with his team since 6:00am.
Supporters were not quick to celebrate despite PC’s quick majority provincially, as it was a tight local race between Romano and New Democratic Party candidate, Michele McCleave-Kennedy. The tight race was made even more intense by the personal nature of the campaigns, with both sides taking shots at the other. After the victory, Romano claimed he was fully aware that this campaign would be an uphill battle.
To that, Romano stated, “There was a lot of attacking. It was unfortunate that this campaign wasn’t run cleaner… There was a lot of negative ad campaigns against me personally…. I certainly never experienced anything like this…. But it just motivated us to work even harder.”
Despite the division between McCleave-Kennedy and Romano, she came and conceded to Romano at the Marconi Club prior to all votes being counted.
When asked what is next for the Sault following the majority win, Romano stated “We have to focus on CCAA… Tariffs are a huge issue and I’ve been working with contacts I’ve made including senators and congressmen…. I am going to be having a conversation very soon with Noront as to what we can do to get moving on the ferrochrome smelter and Ring of Fire.”
Those were identified as the top-priority items as he returns to Queen’s Park.
“He’s made a commitment to Northern Ontario, he’s been here three times since he’s been leader. I look very much forward to working with Doug. He’s an extremely approachable guy… Immediate to return calls, we’ve had numerous conversations… I know that he wants to make changes in Northern Ontario and see our jobs grow.”
Romano expressed no concern about the fact that he did not back Ford in the leadership race, explaining that they have developed a great relationship since he took office.
Romano thanked his team, especially his mother, claiming “None of it would have been possible without such an extraordinary group of people.”
Jason Naccarato, from Romano’s campaign team, told SaultOnline, “No candidate has worked harder or longer than Ross has. He has been so dedicated from the beginning and I think it really proves his passion and the work he puts in for the community. That is the kind of person you want representing your city, he leads by example and he has shown everybody how much of a fighter he is for the people of Sault Ste. Marie. No matter what the result is, we know we left no stone unturned and did everything we could.”
In a press release, Mayor Provenzano released a statement congratulating Romano on behalf of City Council. He said, “We look forward to working with the newly elected Government of Ontario and continue working with Ross for the betterment of our community.”
The statement continued, “To all the candidates that put their names forward, thank you for your time and your effort. It takes a lot of commitment and dedication to participate in a campaign and you should all be recognized and commended for your efforts. Our democracy depends on your participation, and your City is grateful for your dedication.”
Provenzano concluded by recognizing the volunteers and Elections Ontario staff for their hard work.