Premier opposed Bean's selection, claim party sources
Mixed reaction to new candidate
Residents of constituency four expressed mixed reactions after Pastor Leroy Bean was named as the new PLP candidate for their area.
Some considered Mr Bean to be a promising candidate, while others, especially those who had not met him personally, were more wary.
Premier Paula Cox announced Mr Bean's candidacy Monday at a press conference at Bailey's Bay Cricket Club. She expressed her full support for him, citing his work with young people and his anti-gang organisation CARTEL.
Kevin Smith, who has met Mr Bean, said: “He would be a good man for the job. He's down to earth, he's got a good heart.”
Mr Bean's campaign has attracted some attention due to controversy surrounding consulting fees paid to him by the Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) while he was serving as the quango's deputy chairman. Auditor General Heather Jacobs Matthews pointed out a potential conflict of interest to the Premier in January 2011. Ms Cox asked for his resignation and for the money to be returned, but Mr Bean did not do so.
Mr Smith said in regard to the BLDC conflict: “As for what happened in the past, I think people need to put that behind [them].”
Another resident, who did not wish to give her name, also voiced her support.
“He's been around, we've met him. I find him to be very reputable, a person of integrity.”
But other residents did not have the same confidence in Mr Bean.
Carlton Saunders, who has not spoken with Mr Bean personally, said: “If the Premier has endorsed his candidacy, then he must walk the walk to support his talk.
“In all honesty, never trust a politician.”
Another woman who declined to give her name said she did not think she would support the new PLP candidate.
“There's too much scandal within the party.
“They've done some underhanded stuff with money. I don't trust them.”
Other area residents remain undecided on who they will give their vote to come election day. One woman said although her husband has decided he will support OBA candidate Suzann Holshouser, she has not yet made up her mind.
“I believe we're all carrying some baggage,” she said about past conflicts involving Mr Bean's work with the BLDC. She said neither party's actions to date have convinced her to vote one way or another.
“I'm just fed up with both parties. To me they're like a bunch of kids.”
Premier Paula Cox opposed Leroy Bean's selection as a Progressive Labour Party election candidate, according to multiple sources within the party.
Mr Bean — chosen by the St George's South branch in August 2010 — is said to have been deselected by the PLP's candidates committee after courting negative publicity in the Bermuda Land Development Corporation affair.
One of his strongest critics was the Premier and Finance Minister, who called for him to resign from BLDC in early 2011 when it emerged public cash was paid to him as a consultant while he was deputy chairman.
Yesterday, sources said the pastor was reinstated as a candidate after the PLP's appeals committee upheld his complaint on the matter.
At Mr Bean's official roll-out at Bailey's Bay Cricket Club on Monday, Ms Cox endorsed him as a “man of commitment”, noting his efforts with CARTEL, the anti-gang organisation he founded.
However many well-placed members, speaking on condition of anonymity, said behind the scenes Ms Cox was against the move; they noted Mr Bean is a political ally of former Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess, who clashed with the Premier over the BLDC issue.
One member said Mr Bean was selected by his branch in accordance with the constitution but was later deselected by the candidates committee.
That source said: “He appealed to the appeals committee which upheld his appeal on the grounds the candidates committee had no power to deselect.
“It offered no comment on whether or not he is a suitable candidate.”
Another member said: “I thought the Premier had made a firm decision not to have him as a candidate.
“Whether it was her decision or not, this is the man she removed from the board at the BLDC following some serious concerns from the Auditor General. To see him as a candidate is surprising.”
Another source noted Mr Bean had staunch support from his branch, which he helped develop into one of the largest membership bases in the party.
Before the 2007 election, he stepped aside to allow Phil Perinchief to run instead, but one source said: “He and his branch weren't going to step aside this time.”
A report from Auditor General Heather Matthews revealed BLDC paid $160,000 in consultancy fees to Mr Bean and former chairman Edward Saunders, despite being warned more than once of a potential conflict of interest.
Ms Cox recommended the pair resign and pay back the money; but that never happened and the Premier dissolved the board in May 2011.
Mr Bean will challenge One Bermuda Alliance candidate Suzann Holshouser for the seat currently held by the OBA's Donte Hunt.
Ms Cox's press officer and the PLP did not respond to a request for a comment yesterday and Mr Bean could not be reached.
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