The two men seeking the Liberal nod in Chester-St. Margaret's are working to define their approaches to potentially becoming MLA rather than focusing on what sets them apart from each other.
Jacob Killawee and Matt Morash are also in an unusual position of filling the Grits' vacancy in the riding, given the previous candidate, Hugh MacKay - elected MLA in 2017 - later left caucus due to personal circumstances.
"Everyone encounters difficulty at some point in their lives," said Killawee, a Upper Tantallon resident, and recently retired lieutenant with the Royal Canadian Navy.
Morash, a math and science teacher from Fox Point, also declined to speak about MacKay, except to say he appreciated his support of a streetscape program in Hubbards.
MacKay, who previously admitted to a drunk driving incident in 2019, is going to trial next year on another, separate allegation dating back to 2018. The charge has not been tested in court and MacKay, who pleaded not guilty, is presumed innocent. MacKay left caucus in February 2020 after the second charge was made public.
In an email, MacKay told LighthouseNOW he is undecided about re-offering. "Depends on further conversations with constituents, how things go in the legislature and my own health and wellness. I'm sure you can understand that my personal health and wellness trumps the job."
Meanwhile, Morash and Killawee are zeroing-in on the path to nomination, which is anticipated to be confirmed within the next month or so. For both, it is their first foray into seeking elected public office.
According to Morash, the streetscape project led to his provincial political move. "We accomplished so much with such great people, it made me want to get more involved in improving our community," he told LighthouseNOW during a phone call.
The 31-year-old married father of two said he hopes his ongoing connections with decision-makers creates a opportunity for him to get more things accomplished as an MLA. He's particularly focused on public policy concerning affordable housing, accessible childcare and access to rural broadband internet.
"I look at these kids in the school, my family, friends, and my community, and I know that there's these really challenging problems that need to be solved. And, as a math teacher, I'm all too familiar with solving tough problems," Morash said. "I can guarantee to anyone, no one will work harder than I will."
Meanwhile, the pandemic, environment, seniors, and the economy are key pillars for Killawee, who is 40, married, and the father of one child. He's aiming to provide value to constituents during a vital time. He is eager to serve his community in the same vein as he served his country, he suggested.
"We're at a real societal intersection point," Killawee told LighthouseNOW during a phone interview, saying he hopes to extend his military leadership tools into the public sector.
"It's a different way of looking at things ... not just [in terms of] emergency management. But how we plan, and how we think about what are the strategic and long-term implications of making a tactical decision can really be profound."
Killawee prides himself as "a good listener, a pretty deliberate thinker and an excellent team player," and, although he does not always take himself too seriously, "I take being a professional very seriously."
A general provincial election has yet to be called.
Danielle Barkhouse, a civic politician in the Municipality of Chester, is the Progressive Conservative candidate in the riding.
Former cabinet minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse ran for the NDP in 2017. In a social media message, Peterson-Rafuse, who was the riding's MLA between 2009 and 2017, told LighthouseNOW she is "not planning to run" in the next election.