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'Hopefully, we can do something positive' -- Rocky Simpson joins son in legislative assembly

Rocky Simpson, right, is congratulated on winning Hay River South on election night by his son R.J. Simpson, who was acclaimed to return to the Legislative Assembly in Hay River North. News/North revealed last week that the elder Simpson owed nearly $2 million to the GNWT R.J. Simpson was the general manager of the company before becoming an MLA in 2015. NNSL file photo
Rocky Simpson, right, is congratulated on winning Hay River South on election night by his son R.J. Simpson, who was acclaimed to his legislative assembly seat in Hay River North.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Rocky Simpson has been elected to represent Hay River South in the Legislative Assembly, knocking out a prominent cabinet minister in the process.

Simpson collected 350 votes, compared to 322 votes for Wally Schumann, who was elected in 2015 and served in a number of cabinet portfolios.

Simpson celebrated his victory with supporters at his campaign headquarters on election night.

"I'm pleased with the campaign and winning. That's what it was all about," he said after the results were known. "Hopefully, we can do something positive for Hay River."

Simpson said the big thing for him is making sure he's approachable for all people, whether they voted for him or not.

Asked what may have turned the election in his favour, the winning candidate noted he is from Hay River and has lived there all his life, and has lots of family and friends in the community.

As for taking down a cabinet minister, Simpson said Schumann had his style and worked the best way that he thought would help Hay River.

"I just had a difference of opinion," he said. "And I just wanted to make sure someone challenged him."

Simpson – the owner of Concept Energy Services Ltd., which constructs modular buildings – was a first-time candidate.

The winning candidate is the father of Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson, who was returned to the Legislative Assembly by acclamation.

In a break with an unofficial tradition, Schumann didn't show up at the Rocky Simpson's headquarters to offer congratulations to the successful candidate.

Schumann admitted to being a little bit surprised by the election results.

"I certainly didn't see this coming," he said.

Schumann pointed to low voter turnout in Hay River South, noting a higher turnout would normally favour an incumbent.

A person can speculate all day long about the outcome, he said. "But at the end of the day we lost."

"Hay River has obviously voted and made their decision, and they want to have the two Simpsons represent them in the Legislative Assembly," he added.

As the MLA for Hay River South, Schumann became a prominent cabinet minister, holding the portfolios of Infrastructure, and Industry, Tourism and Investment when the election was called.