"It was a little overwhelming."

That is how the newly minted PC candidate for La Verendrye describes Thursday. Not only was Konrad Narth attempting to win the nomination, but his effort came during the first snowstorm of the season. 

Polls only opened at 4 pm on Thursday, which is almost exactly when the first snowflakes started to fall. The vote happened at the Sarto Hall and Narth says the parking lot was full at 4 pm. But, as the storm intensified and highways started closing, the number of people inside the hall began to dwindle.

"Many of my supporters were calling and text messaging wondering how it was going because they had heard that highways were closed," says Narth. "And if their support was needed they were going to take the chance and risk it."

Narth told his supporters not to risk coming out and by the time the dust settled, the candidate from Zhoda was named the winner. Though the PC Party does not disclose how many votes each of the candidates received, Narth says he knows there were approximately 400 ballots filled out, from approximately 900 eligible voters. He says the voter turnout of approximately 40 per cent is less than the 50 per cent that most of the other candidate elections in Manitoba have been drawing but says that is some serious dedication considering Thursday's weather.

Konrad Narth surrounded by supporters at Thursday's vote.Konrad Narth surrounded by supporters at Thursday's vote (submitted photo)

Narth is a lifelong resident of La Verendrye who lives in Zhoda. He is a third-generation farmer and, together with his wife, owns two different businesses in the area. The father of two is a graduate of Shevchenko School in Vita. 

Though Narth will be the official PC candidate for La Verendrye in the next provincial election, Dennis Smook will continue to serve at MLA until the general election is called. Narth says his goal now is to connect with voters in the constituency.

Narth says the most common complaint he heard while on the campaign trail, is the dissatisfaction that residents of La Verendrye have towards politicians from all levels of government. He says some of that is the result of the pandemic, noting COVID-19 seems to have made people more engaged with the political process. 

"It's important that I hit the ground running, get into all of our different communities throughout the constituency and have an opportunity to hear from each and every one that's going to be voting in the next provincial election," he says. "I definitely look forward to having that opportunity to be an effective representative."

Narth says he could feel the support heading into Thursday's vote. Following the announcement that Narth was victorious over challenger Jen Brandt, he received a congratulatory phone call from Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson as well as several other MLAs.