OBA candidates focus on education ahead of big day
One Bermuda Alliance by-election candidates said ahead of the voting tomorrow that education is the major concern of constituency households.
Justin Mathias, who is up against the Progressive Labour Party’s Curtis Dickinson in Warwick North East, said education remained the “number- one issue” among constituents.
He said: “A lot of people have been disappointed because of the recent statement from the Bermuda Union of Teachers saying they have lost confidence in the minister.”
Mr Mathias said education had been the top issue for the last 20 years.
He added: “It’s about time we take politics out of education. “It’s time to consider having a full-on approach, shaking the system to its core, and creating an authority to take politics away from the education system and come up with a strategic plan that’s going to benefit our country for the next 20 years — no matter who is in government.”
Scott Pearman, the OBA candidate for Paget East, described education as a “fundamental”.
Mr Pearman said: “Obviously, Bermuda needs a strong economy, yes, and Bermuda needs jobs, but we need to focus on Bermudians and we need to have an education that prepares Bermudians for those jobs.
Mr Mathias and Mr Pearman said they had got a good reception on doorsteps.
Mr Mathias added: “People like the fact that I am a young person getting involved in politics, trying to raise the level of political discourse.”
He added his party had “received the message” sent by voters in the last General Election.
Mr Mathias said: “We are going back to our values and principles. We are forming a party that is going to go towards the future and is going to benefit the country.”
Mr Pearman said constituents had also highlighted the need for an effective Opposition.
He added: “The PLP has quite a significant proportion of the House, but it’s important to Bermuda and Bermudians that we have a strong Opposition.”
He said the OBA was currently going through a process of “renewal and reform”.
Mr Pearman added: “You see two new candidates in this by-election, both of whom are new to the front line of politics.
“The Opposition is a party in transition. It’s healthy for Bermuda and it’s healthy for Bermudians to have a strong Opposition to hold the PLP to account fairly, but also firmly.”
Mr Mathias said that the OBA would be more vocal in its role as Opposition now that the “rubber was starting to meet the road” as the Government launches new legislation, including the proposed sugar tax.
He explained: “Just like everybody else, we’ve given them the opportunity and the honeymoon is over.”
David Burt, the Premier, said at a PLP rally last Sunday that voters in Paget East should not let the OBA pull an “oil-shuffle”.
Mr Burt explained: “That means they take one member of the oligarchy, Grant Gibbons, and replace him with another member of the oligarchy, Scott Pearman.”
Mr Pearman dismissed the comment as “politics”.
He added: “People are going to make stereotypical judgments and easy attacks. I think it’s unfortunate that the Premier chose to attack me personally, but that’s politics.
“The reality is, I think Bermudians are better than that — they’re going to judge me on who I am.”
Jeanne Atherden, the Leader of the Opposition, said both OBA candidates represented the type of new blood needed in the party.
Ms Atherden said: “They represent the diversity and the young people that will be transitioning into the Opposition.”
She said Mr Mathias and Mr Pearman are both resident in the constituencies they are contesting, so they had a “direct interest” in serving their voters.
Ms Atherden said that politics “was all about being on the doorstep and they have been on the doorstep”.
Ms Atherden added that her party understood its responsibility to be a strong Opposition.
She added: “These two members will be on the doorstep, in the House and be able to talk about the concerns of Bermuda.”
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