Don McKay is taking on a new day job.
Goodbye mayor's office, hello federal election campaign.
Five weeks after Stephen Harper dropped the writ and federal candidates began their campaigns, Oxford County finally has a full slate of candidates representing all the major parties.
Don McKay became the federal Liberal Party candidate in Oxford County after party faithful voted at a nomination meeting Tuesday evening.
About 75 people filled a room at the Quality Inn to hear Michael Commisso, a Woodstock paralegal and rookie on the political scene, go up against McKay, the mayor of East Zorra-Tavistock, to compete for the candidacy.
But McKay is no longer the mayor. He will take a leave of absence for the next six weeks as he campaigns against Oxford's longtime MP Dave MacKenzie, the incumbent in Oxford County and the riding’s federal representative for the last 11 years.
“The approach for me is very simple. I’m Don McKay, I’ve been warden of the county, and I’ve served well -- the entire community. It’s much more about serving than which party, and I would be confident that I would have the respect and support of many Conservative members,” McKay said.
“I think I represent their values for fiscal responsibility and I’m committed to social wellbeing for all.”
Other federal candidates in Oxford include Zoe Kunschner for the NDP, Green Party candidate Mike Farlow, and Melody Aldred for the Christian Heritage Party.
“If I had to lose to anyone, I’m glad it’s Don McKay,” said Commisso, the first person on his feet to congratulate his competitor when the results were read.
“I appreciate Michael’s very sincere comments here tonight, that together, now we are one team,” McKay said after taking the microphone.
Before the vote, McKay used his nomination speech to share his vision for prosperity in Oxford, focusing on seniors, agriculture and youth. He turned those central pillars into a mantra, having representatives hold up posters with the letters S,A,Y, and encouraging the membership to "have your say, vote McKay."
And now that mantra will turn, full strength, into a campaign that McKay hopes will turn Oxford from blue to red. Former Woodstock mayor Michael Harding is running McKay's campaign.
“We’re getting signs made up, hopefully very shortly, now that we actually have a name to put on them,” McKay said.
But jokes aside, the late start doesn’t seem to bother Oxford’s newest federal candidate.
McKay told the crowd that by creating an election campaign longer than six weeks, "you're really presuming on your own self-importance."
“I’m not considering it late. We have six weeks, and six weeks is enough time to get the concise message out – we need change,” he said in an interview after votes were tallied.
“We need stronger representation for Oxford in Ottawa, to take the Oxford message there.”