Gerry Lowe announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in Saint John Harbour, saying he came to that conclusion early on as a member of the Liberal caucus.
“It’s just not my piece of cake,” Lowe, who was elected two years ago, said in an interview.
In a post on his Facebook page, he said: “After much consideration early in my term, I realized that I had made a gigantic mistake, leaving Saint John council and entering an area where I lacked direct contact with the people.”
An election has been called for Sept. 14, only two years into the government of Progressive Conservative Blaine Higgs.
Lowe joins Liberals Brian Kenny in Bathurst West-Beresford and Cathy Rogers in Moncton South, who have also decided not to run again for seats in the legislature.
On the PC side, Carl Urquhart, the public safety minister who represented York, Bruce Northrup in Sussex and Stewart Fairgrieve in Carleton aren’t running.
Lowe told CBC News that he enjoyed working in his riding on his issues of homelessness and better housing, but he didn’t like the other part of his job as an MLA.
“Once you get to Fredericton, everything is a different world,” he said. “It’s such a waste of time up there, and it’s so political.
“You don’t get to the problems … . Problems are solved directly when you’re around here.”
Lowe said being a business agent for a union for 21 years and spending five years on city council showed him problems could get resolved locally.
“Going there was a whole different world,” he said of his switch to provincial politics in 2018.
Lowe, who beat Progressive Conservative candidate Barry Ogden by 10 votes and survived a court challenge of the result, said he was warned by some people he wouldn’t like provincial politics.
“Turns out they were right.”
Lowe said everything he did as an MLA was in the best interests of the people. Among other things, he cited his vote to lift the moratorium on shale gas exploration in the Sussex area.
“My belief was that, if we had enough gas, we could reverse the LNG terminal to ship gas out, which would allow a greater assessed value for tax purposes in Saint John.”
As MLA, Lowe also brought forward a motion calling for a closer look at shifting the property tax burden away from private citizens and “back onto the shoulders of those who have enough political power to avoid paying their fair share.”
But at hearings in Fredericton before the legislature’s law amendments committee, Lowe said, the majority of presenters were against any changes to taxes.
Lowe said the Liberals made the right decision when they pulled out of negotiations with Higgs on Friday that would have delayed a provincial election for two years or until the pandemic was over.
“If we had stayed, the only option allowed to us would have been for the Conservatives to act as majority government with absolutely no opposition from any other party. This is not a democracy.”
Lowe said the Liberals have a good chance of beating Progressive Conservatives in all four Saint John-area ridings.
He also said he liked having a minority government, which is what Higgs has had.
Having four different parties bringing their ideas forward is a better way of getting things done, Lowe said.
He said he’s not sure what he will do next but he’s on a few committees to keep him busy and will consider running for a seat on Saint John city council again.
“It will depend who’s running. We’ll see when the time comes.”