New OBA senator wants to ‘break the mould’
New One Bermuda Alliance senator Justin Mathias yesterday became one of the youngest people to serve in the Upper House.
But the 25-year-old accounting and political science graduate said his age would give him an advantage and that he hoped to “break the mould” of island politics.
Mr Mathias, deputy chairman of the OBA and chairman of youth wing the Future Bermuda Alliance, said: “Traditionally, you go down the path where you spend 20 years focusing on your career and then you turn to politics.
“For me, this is to show that there is not just one path — there are multiple paths.”
And he questioned how Bermuda could have “youth-driven laws or youth-driven perspective” if there were no young people in Senate or the House of Assembly.
Mr Mathias said: “That is vitally important as the electorate moves towards a more youthful, swing-type of voter. You see it in France where they have had the youngest president ever — you see it in the Netherlands, across Europe and here where we have the youngest Premier.
“I think the younger the representation, the more we get our voices heard and it helps us to engage in the system.
“We suffered a huge defeat in July and it was necessary to inject that youth into the party to signal that there is still hope for change and to signal that there is still hope for our party.”
He added: “Age is just a number, I don't think it writes you off experience-wise. There are a lot of things that you can become knowledgeable on and that is the main focus of the Senate.
“There is extreme focus in being prepared and ready to make sure that those Bills that are being passed in the House are the right and appropriate Bills for the public.”
Mr Mathias said he turned down an invitation in July from then interim OBA leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin to become a senator as he wanted to focus on the youth wing and prepare for last weekend's OBA conference.
But he accepted the job after new OBA leader Jeanne Atherden contacted him on Tuesday.
Mr Mathias said: “When I got the call the second time I had done a lot of the ground work in order to revitalise the youth wing of the party and a lot of the ground work to get the conference going.
“When Jeanne Atherden called me to say I would be appointed to the Senate, I was very thrilled and excited for the new venture.”
Mr Mathias minored in political science at St Mary's University, Canada, and majored in accounting. He said: “It doesn't matter how far I aspire to go in politics — it is about the work that needs to be done.
“Whether I can accomplish more work behind the scenes or at the national level in a titled role — that is to be seen.
“I think every issue that I feel passionate about I have to weigh those options of whether the effort that I am able to put in is better done in the public sphere or whether it is better done behind the scenes.
“I have heard from people literally since I was in grade seven telling me I will be Premier one day.
“If it happens, it happens and if it doesn't happen I wouldn't be fazed by it — for me it is the work that is involved and getting things done to better Bermuda.
“If I can do that in whatever capacity I can serve the community in I will do it.”