John Le Fondré has become the first Chief Minister to be ejected at the ballot box, having also been the first to lead the island through its greatest peacetime crisis in living memory.
The two were undeniably connected, which Senator Le Fondré – with 16-and-a-half years of political life under his belt – recognised as he spoke immediately after hearing the result for St. Lawrence, St. John and Trinity.
The Chief Minister – standing as a Jersey Alliance member but not its leader – came sixth, polling 997 votes.
His party colleague and Homes Affairs Minister Gregory Guida finished just above him but neither made the all-important top four.
Pictured: How Express reported on John Le Fondré's Chief Ministerial victory in 2018.
With his wife Sarah and their two children offering tender support at Trinity Parish Hall, where the final result for the new district was called, the Chief Minister was reflective in defeat.
“I’m obviously disappointed but congratulations to the successful candidates," he said. “There was a view that, post-covid, people might want change and that has been the outcome.
“I’ve proud of what we’ve done; we did protect lives during the pandemic and we did move swiftly in a very difficult situation.
"It was the first time that the emergency council had ever met in anybody’s memory, and ultimately we came out of it with an economy, with good finances and a whole range of other things.”
Pictured: The successful candidates in Trinity, St. John and St. Lawrence celebrate while the outgoing Senator Le Fondré takes stock.
He added: “Party politics obviously has a lot further to go to get to maturity.
"As far as I am concerned, this was always going to be my last term. I’ve done 16-and-a-half years, I have achieved quite a lot, particularly in the last four years.
"It has been an absolute privilege.
“It has been a brilliant experience, whether it’s been making all the changes we’ve made on-island or representing the island externally. We have a really good story to tell.”
Asked why he thought voters had chosen others, he said: “The rejection by the electorate could be down to covid and desire to move on.
"I really can’t say at this stage. On the positive side, I will be seeing more of my family. I will now reassess; we have lot of stuff at home to sort, such as the family business.
“I hope to play a much more active role on the Les Vaux Housing Trust; and possibly non-executive and charitable roles.
“I leave the States with a huge sense of pride. Sometimes, obviously, there have been people who have not agreed with me or wanted to take political advantage, but that’s life."
The Senator noted: “These next four years will definitely have challenges in them for the next Assembly. The big question will be if people are up for making those difficult decisions or just take a populist approach.”
Offering advice to the next Chief Minister, whoever that might be, the outgoing one said: “Make sure you are making rational decisions; you are dealing with people’s lives, livelihoods, the finances of the island and its global reputation.
“We’ve got to be seen to be making intelligent and rational decisions, and supporting our main industries.”
As he left, his daughter clutched his arm.
She beamed: “I’ve got my dad back after 16 years.”
Pictured top: Now and then... Senator Le Fondré at Trinity Parish Hall awaiting results, and toasting coming third in the Senatorial polls with more than 14,000 votes.
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