Ernest Peets Jr, a pastor, therapist and political newcomer, has been declared the Progressive Labour Party candidate for Smith’s North, the constituency held by Michael Dunkley, the Premier.
Describing himself as “action-oriented, committed, open-minded and accessible”, the father of four said he had been prompted into politics after seeing his mother pepper sprayed with protesters outside Parliament on December 2.
“I’ve found, in my work and my life, that sometimes it takes an awful incident for us to truly realise the dire state of our collective situation,” he added.
Dr Peets brings a strong background in addiction counselling, and Opposition leader David Burt said he would prove an asset in the PLP’s plans to reform drug treatment, including within the penal system.
A private practitioner on family issues, Dr Peets has worked in corrections as well as drug treatment court. He recently joined Child and Adolescent Services as a family therapist, and his appointment to the Problem Gaming Council was announced earlier this month.
Commending his “energetic and enthusiastic involvement”, Mr Burt said the new candidate stood for “the best of Bermuda”.
Coming just a week after Kim Swan was rolled out as a candidate for St George’s West, yesterday’s unveiling was another sign of the building General Election fever.
Constituency 10 was a decisive One Bermuda Alliance win in 2012, when Mr Dunkley took 67 per cent of the votes to 33 per cent for Patrice Minors of the PLP.
But Dr Peets told The Royal
Gazette that if he made his involvement there “about Mr Dunkley or myself, it would suggest I was in it for the wrong reasons”.
The PLP, he said, represented “the best opportunity for me to advance the best possible life for the constituents of Smith’s North”.
The party’s values “resonate 100 per cent, completely, with what I believe to be right and true”.
Appearing alongside his wife Julie, Dr Peets emphasised his experience in human services, but was open about his status as a political neophyte.
Also present were his mother, Sharon Swan, stepfather Edward Swan, and daughter Ajai Peets, also the Youth Opposition leader.
Witnessing the pepper spraying of his mother marked “the moment I knew I could no longer sit on the sidelines”.
Bermuda, he added, was slipping backwards to a time when “the privileged few wielded power over the rest of us to prosecute those standing up for Bermuda, to persecute those exercising their rights, and to exert violence upon them when they do so”.
The pastor of New Life Church of the Nazarene also said that he had witnessed the erosion of values, and that his background made him “well trained to be an asset in the recovery, not just of individuals, but of our entire community”.
“A community divided, a community made up of two Bermudas, is a community that will not prosper.”
• To read both statements from this morning, click on the PDFs under “Related Media”