The atmosphere was relaxed at the Moody Cow Pub in Aurora where Newmarket-Aurora NDP candidate Denis Heng, his family and supporters enjoyed food and drinks after the polls closed.
His group of supporters was small but lively. The joke of the evening among his supporters was about finding Conservative candidate Dawn Gallagher Murphy, who was criticized during the campaign for missing debates. However, she took an early lead in the race this evening, with 44.5 per cent of votes with 56 of 60 polls reporting at about 11 p.m.
Liberal Sylvain Roy was second, with 31.7 per cent, followed by Heng at 12.8 per cent and Green Carolina Rodriguez at 5.7 per cent of the vote.
Heng said he spent the afternoon wondering if he should knock on more doors but realized "everything after this last weekend was gravy" and he's done everything he could. He did drop off reminders to make sure people get out and vote while trying to breathe and not let the weight of his first-ever campaign get to him.
He said he was still convincing people this morning who were unsure about whether to vote Liberal or NDP and he only wishes he could have had more of those conversations.
Heng joked that because he lives just one kilometre from his riding, his own wife wasn't able to vote for him but he praised the two Grade 10 volunteers in his camp and said that his mission in the next four years is to build the youth engagement in the community.
Heng said has a glass half empty kind of a person and while he may not have been successful this time around, he's in it for the "long haul" and is confident he's laid the groundwork for the future.
"I'm looking to bring some stability to the provincial candidacy here."
He applauded the work of Green candidate Rodriguez and said he hopes that youth in the community will find a mentor in her.
His plan after the election is to work with both Rodriguez and Roy to see how they can work together to make the community better.
"My commitment is as long as they're willing to work with me, I'm ready to fight for them as well. Let's get up there, let's continue scaling the mountain."
Chris Loree, Heng's volunteer coordinator, said what she loves most about Heng is his enthusiasm. She said that "as a newbie," he continued to learn and grow throughout the campaign. But his best trait, she said, is that he listens.
"He's not leaving, it's not a done deal," Loree said. "We're here to advocate for people who can't advocate for themselves."