‘I knew that area was going to support me’

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  • One Bermuda Alliance candidate Glen Smith bursts from the Devonshire West polling station at CedarBridge Academy moments after defeating Progressive Labour Party Premier in Monday’s general election.

    One Bermuda Alliance candidate Glen Smith bursts from the Devonshire West polling station at CedarBridge Academy moments after defeating Progressive Labour Party Premier in Monday’s general election.
    (Photo by David Skinner)

Glen Smith’s stunning removal of the sitting premier was earned on the doorstep

By Jonathan Bell

New MP Glen Smith said he sensed long in advance that one the election’s shock victories — which saw a sitting Premier thwarted in her bid for Devonshire North West — was going to fall in his favour.

“To be honest, I knew three weeks ago,” the One Bermuda Alliance MP admitted of his victory, 470 to Paula Cox’s 377.

Mr Smith added: “That count was eleven votes off from what I said I was going to win.”

The 49-year-old businessman and former Deputy Mayor of Hamilton continued: “I knew from what people were telling me on the doorstep.

“And I kept it to myself. People will tell you what you want to hear, or else they are too polite.

“But from heart to heart, hearing peoples’ struggles in their daily lives — I knew that area was going to support me.”

The owner of Island Self Storage, Mr Smith and his wife Jonelle have two sons, Somers and Carter Smith.

He served in the Corporation of Hamilton until February, when he stepped down after announcing his candidacy.

Asked if he might seek a post in the new Cabinet, he said he could potentially serve based on “my skills in business development”.

“I started all my own businesses. I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 20. You could say I’m respected in the international business and local business arena. I’ve employed over 500 Bermudians in my time.”

Asked if he had been deployed in the area specifically to unseat the Progressive Labour Party candidate, Mr Smith replied: “No, not at all.

“My strategy from the get-go was to serve the people of Devonshire North West. I was born and raised in Devonshire North and that’s why I got involved.”

However, he added: “I guess my main goal was to create a marginal, at the end of the day, of what was historically always a PLP stronghold.”

At the polls on Monday, he said, “I knew 80 percent of everybody’s first name or surname”.

He said his campaign had been quietly “below the radar screen”, but involved laborious canvassing to build trust in Cedar Park, Roberts Avenue, Deepdale and Happy Valley.

“I knocked on every door,” he said. “After every home, I wrote a hand written note saying, ‘It was a pleasure to meet you, I’m interested in your concerns’.

“You have to remember, this is a constituency that nobody ever, ever looked after personally. It took a lot of time.”

He said perseverance, personalising notes and phoning people on their birthdays, whether they supported his party or not, ultimately paid off.

Of course, Mr Smith conceded, boundary changes, such as the addition of more affluent neighbourhoods such as Camden Road, also tilted the constituency in his favour.

But in the more depressed neighbourhoods, he said he was received initially with “Where’s this white guy coming from?” attitude.

“That was until I was able to explain who I am and what I am about — then they opened their doors to me.”

Mr Smith said he wanted to represent the ignored communities, and felt deeply flattered to gain acceptance there.

“They’re great neighbourhoods. I got invited into homes. I sat on walls and talked with people. I didn’t need a bodyguard.

“At first I was a bit apprehensive. But everywhere I go through, they say, ‘Smith, I got your back’. And they certainly did have my back on election day.”

Of the constituents, he said: “They just want somebody that’s going to give them hope. Hope and trust. To get them back to work and be there for them.”

He said he gets “three or four phone calls a day” from people who need advice.

Of his time in the Corporation of Hamilton, Mr Smith said: “Of course it was a great learning curve for me. But it could never be as powerful as this. This is about working with peoples’ lives.”

After his victory, Mr Smith said of Ms Cox: “She congratulated me and I thanked her for her contributions. She was a woman of few words.”

Speaking the day after the election, the new MP said of his next move: “Sleep. I have not been to sleep yet.

“Next it’s up to the Premier to see if he wishes to select me to be in a Cabinet position. But my main focus is to work with the constituents of Devonshire North West.”

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Published Dec 19, 2012 at 9:05 am (Updated Dec 19, 2012 at 9:04 am)

‘I knew that area was going to support me’

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