SUMMERSIDE – With members of her team gathered, Nancy Beth Guptill anxiously looks at the multiple TV screens above the bar. As the block with her name fills yellow, she’s left with the feeling that she might have a chance to come away as the next mayor of Summerside.
Fast forward a few hours and the polling numbers are tight. It’s been nearly three hours since the polls closed and with four polls still to be tallied, everyone at Uncle Mike’s restaurant on Water Street had their attention turned to the Decision ’18 broadcast.
“This waiting game is actually quite peaceful,” said Guptill.
“I’m still optimistic of what could happen. I knew that it was going to be a tough race, but you have to try and prepare yourself for any outcome.”
Guptill, who launched her campaign for mayor about three weeks before the election, said she is amazed by the turnout.
“It’s a clear indication that people want change. We may have been at a disadvantage by the time we came out, but I think we’ve done damn good.”
Jane McQuaid, a member of Guptill’s campaign team adds, “We were able to do this in three weeks. What do you think that means? Imagine if we had six weeks.”
By about 10:15 p.m., it became clear that former mayor Basil Stewart would once again take the city council's top job.
“Sadly, innovative ideas and tackling things from a holistic point of view didn’t seem to be enough. And as much as people want to see change, they like to go with what is familiar and stay complacent.”
She says it’s her understanding that people weren’t interested in the mayoral race. But when she announced her candidacy, the tides changed.
“When you think about it, he had three months, I had three weeks. No matter the outcome I’m thrilled for the turnout. People invited me into their homes and being a part of it really led to a new understanding and perspective," she said.
“I’m that girl working in the trenches, and I plan to stay there.”
She says come next election, she would consider running again.
“It was an incredible opportunity. Of course, I would run again.”
She also acknowledges that a longer campaign trail may be an advantage.
“I definitely think that played a factor. If we came out earlier we may have had a stronger showing, but I think I held my own in the debate and engaging with citizens and I drew in people who may not otherwise get involved in voting.”
Ken Driscoll, Guptill’s campaign manager says while he's disappointed with the end result, it’s encouraging to see the change in tides within the city.
“We were able to establish a vision for awareness and change in that short span of time. People have taken notice of her leadership. I think people have also identified with her philanthropic side, and she isn’t going to let not taking the mayor’s chair stop her.”
Guptill’s sister, Peggy Malone said she’d never seen her sister so happy.
“She was totally in her element, the entire time. She truly enjoyed it. She showed a side of her that was amazing.”