By Chad Feehan Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Harbour Main MHA Helen Conway Ottenheimer is a busy woman, having spent much of the year as Opposition Justice critic advocating for changes at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary. What she’s most proud of this year, however, is her relationship with her constituents.
It’s through the connection she maintains with the community that she’s able to identify what is important to residents, she explained in a year-end interview recently.
“I truly appreciate the support and encouragement that I get from the people I represent,” she said. “I believe they help me, as an MHA, in achieving successful outcomes for them.”
Seniors issues, namely healthcare and the cost of living, have been top-of-mind for Conway Ottenheimer. Helping seniors achieve a “standard of living that is acceptable” has been the politician’s biggest challenge.
“Seniors are struggling in their lives to make ends meet,” said the PC Member for Harbour Main District. “I’m very concerned about that. I fear that seniors are quietly struggling in their homes, but not reaching out for the help that they need.”
Getting out to community events is an important part of Conway Ottenheimer’s community work, and it’s through opportunities like those that she hears stories about seniors in need.
“These things are happening in our towns and communities,” she said. “It’s an important goal for me that my constituents feel comfortable reaching out to me for help and knowing that I will do my best to help them… I hear about it when people call into the office on a day to day basis, and I hear about it when I’m attending events throughout the district.”
Conway Ottenheimer was recently appointed as the PC Party’s Critic for the Department of Persons with Disabilities, Seniors, and Aging, which she said will give her the opportunity to lean into these issues in the year to come.
Road conditions in her district are also on her radar for 2024, including Route 60 from Upper Gullies to Seal Cove, as well as Roaches Line and others.
“We have some serious work to do,” she said. “I’ll continue to keep fighting for road improvements and paving for those areas.”
Going forward into the new year, Conway Ottenheimer would like to more directly involve her constituents in advocacy, whether through lobbying or otherwise.
“Together we can raise the urgency of these matters,” she said. “We need to look at getting the people more collectively involved. We may need to work together and have more of a collective goal or entities together in the community to try to raise the level of concern.”