CARP – Recent Carp resident and small business owner Jennifer McAndrew is making her pitch to lead the Kanata-Carleton Conservatives in the upcoming federal election, whenever that may be.
McAndrew, owner of Mastermind Event Rentals, knows firsthand what small businesses are going through as they navigate their way through a global pandemic that has forced repeated shutdowns, restricted customer access, and put an incredible strain on revenue streams and cashflow.
“It’s not our finest hour,” McAndrew told West Carleton Online last week (Feb. 18). “We’ve been able to keep the lights on by doing a little bit of everything. We’ve been able to keep our employees working.”
Mastermind Event Rentals started in 2007 when McAndrew purchased a photo booth for weddings. The business grew from there, now providing all kind of rental services and catering for events of any size. But the event business plummeted with the arrival of COVID-19 last March. That will happen when gatherings of more than 25, or 10, or five are prohibited depending on the day of the week.
McAndrew pivoted (a word she hates) to non-contact balloon delivery and a laundry business for massage therapy and other healthcare-related businesses. It helps and allows her to keep much of her staff employed. COVID-19 also led her to politics.
“As a small business owner, I am seeing the challenges and I know we’re not the only one,” McAndrew said. “I think a lot of it had to do with the pandemic. You can stand around and talk about it or you can do something about it.”
McAndrew, her husband Scott and children Chase, 12, and Bryn, 9, moved to the Carp area from Morgan’s Grant with their business last August. The Carp Road warehouse was operational roughly last October.
It’s McAndrew’s first foray in to politics but she has been a community leader for years including West Carleton minor hockey and as a teacher at the West Carleton School of Performing Arts.
“They’re all facing challenges and they need someone to champion that,” she said.
Before moving to the West Carleton area, the McAndrew spent almost her entire life in the Beaverbrook area within the Kanata-Carleton riding.
“Our placed backed on to a farm,” she said. “The riding is quite expansive and has a lot of diversity.”
What will make the next federal election unique (one the Conservatives believe will be called by April) is it will be held during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is an obstacle any politician will need to hurdle and that starts with the nomination race for the Kanata-Carleton Conservative leadership.
“The pandemic has made it challenging in a lot of different ways,” McAndrew said. “Phone calls and virtual meet and greets are not perfect, but that’s what we can do so people feel safe and secure but can still reach out and ask questions.”
Doorknocking is a hard no for campaign teams this time around.
“It’s important to find out what the community issues are and how I can address them,” McAndrew said of the work ahead. “People’s focus right now is the pandemic. How are we going to get through it and what is it going to look like on the other side?”
A bit part of the recovery is the ongoing Liberal government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, currently underway but plagued with delays and uncertainty.
“Almost a year in to the pandemic, people want to return to normal, whatever that looks like,” McAndrew said. “We need to get back to work, get people on their feet and moving forward. Canada is falling behind.”
Locally, McAndrew says people are ready for a new path.
“Kanata-Carleton is ready for change,” she said. “They’re looking forward to it and they will embrace it if it has a positive impact on their lives.”
While campaigning looks different this year, the goal remains the same.
“We’re trying to reach out to as many people as possible,” McAndrew said. “Supporters, people I haven’t met yet, let them know I’m ready to support Kanata-Carleton and I’m the right person for the job. I need to be visible and available.”
If you would like to know about Kanata-Carleton Conservative nomination candidate Jennifer McAndrew, you can visit her website here.