Kings North MLA-elect on the adjustment from farmer to politician
© John DeCoste - kingscountynews.ca
By John DeCoste
Even though he spent the last month campaigning, Kings North MLA-elect John Lohr admits his victory has been “a lot to take in.”
In an interview the day after the election, Lohr said the last few months have been “an evolving experience” for him.
“First winning the nomination, then working hard to get where I am, and finally winning,” said the North Medford resident.
Lohr, a vegetable and spice farmer, said he was pleased with the campaign in Kings North, and being able to prevail in a three-way race that was far closer than most expected.
“I have a lot of respect for both Stephen (Pearl) and Jim (Morton), and I feel the people owe Jim a huge vote of thanks for all the work he’s done on their behalf,” Lohr said.
Asked if he anticipated being named an opposition critic, Lohr said he had spoken to Jamie Baillie on election night, but not surprisingly, “the topic didn’t come up” at that time.
“With 11 of us, I would expect all of us to be an opposition critic of something, though my first priority will always be to the people who voted me in,” he added. “Whatever role Jamie asks of me, I’ll do it gladly and the best I can.”
Lohr will be an opposition member with government MLAs on either side, but he doesn’t see that will be an issue.
“I know both Leo and Keith, and I feel we all have the best interests of our constituencies at heart, regardless of party,” he said.
Tories make inroads
He was also pleased to see the PC increase their representation to 11 members, up from seven when the legislature was dissolved.
“I know it wasn’t necessarily what some of the polls suggested, but I feel it accurately reflected what we were hearing on the doorsteps rather than the poll results,” Lohr said.
“There’s a big difference between being second and third. To be able to form the official Opposition shows we have support. I feel we’re on the rise (as a party), and my experience is that four years can go very quickly.”
Lohr is already expecting his calendar will quickly become much fuller.
“I plan to be busy – no, I know I’ll be busy,” he said. “I’m busy already, but I plan to take it as it comes.”
He knows there will be “a learning curve” to getting used to being an MLA, and also that his new circumstances will be “an adjustment for me” in terms of lifestyle.
“I plan to be busy – no, I know I’ll be busy. John Lohr
“This will be the first time in my working career I’ll have worked for a salary. I came right out of school and started helping my dad on the farm, and then he sold me the farm,”
He quipped, “I’ve been out in the cold and wet a lot in my working career. It’ll be nice to be warm and dry some of the time for a change.”
As for the challenges of being an MLA, Lohr admitted, “I’m really looking forward to it. I feel I know the constituency very well, and I’ve gotten to know it a lot better over the past month.”
Family support at home
Asked if he expects any challenges in being both a politician and a farmer – an occupation that can be rather unforgiving – Lohr replied, “there are always going to be challenges in farming.”
His family, he says, is going to play a big role in keeping the farm going.
“I was just talking to my dad, who is 81 and still fairly strong. My two eldest sons, aged 26 and 24, are going to be actively involved (in running the farm), along with my wife Heather and my dad as an advisor,” he said.
“I’ll be there when I can to provide support and advice, but I’m of the opinion that young people should be encouraged and given a chance. It’s part of the experience to make your mistakes, work through them and learn from them.”
Lohr was 25 years old when he married his wife, Heather, and the following year, his father sold him the farm.
“I had studied agriculture in college, and that brought me back to the farm, which has been my life ever since,” said the father of four boys.
“Dad has always been a great support to me, and I plan to be the same for my sons.”
Lohr described his election victory as “a monumental moment in my life. I’m very humbled by it,” he said, not to mention the major career change at the age of 51.
He said on election night, “I wouldn’t have run without the support of my wife, or if my sons hadn’t been as interested as they are in taking over the farm. I appreciate the support of my family and the sacrifices they’ve been willing to make.”