Burt cries ‘Hallelujah’ as victory for PLP is declared
Even before the final count came in for Pembroke West Central, David Burt's supporters were dancing in jubilation in the car park of Northlands Primary School.
Whoops and cheers rang out as final results for other constituencies were announced online and it became clear that the Progressive Labour Party had produced a massive win in the 2017 General Election.
Mr Burt arrived at the polling station at about 10.15pm but waited in his car, with his wife Kristin and other family members, as the ballot papers were counted inside the school.
Eventually, glued to his phone for the latest results, he headed to the school entrance, flanked by about 30 relatives, friends and supporters. Just before 11.20pm, he got word of his own win and shouted “Hallelujah!” Those gathered, clad in PLP green, screamed, cheered and hugged one another. The returning officer for constituency 18 then emerged briefly to share the final count with those gathered: 639 votes for the Opposition leader and 326 for the One Bermuda Alliance's Nick Kempe.
Mr Burt, who increased his majority almost fourfold from 2012, embraced his wife, before declaring that he felt “fine” about the result.
Striking a solemn tone, he told The Royal Gazette: “Service is something I have committed my life to and, the fact is, I have served my community to the best of my ability and my constituency.”
He said his win in C18 was down to the fact that voters saw through the “naysayers” who claimed he wasn't present in Pembroke West Central. “The voters understand it and they see the truth. This result sends a message. I'm gratified.”
He said of the overall result across the country: “I'm certainly happy for the results and we will wait to see what comes in but, the fact of the matter is, this is about work. We cannot pretend that we can celebrate a victory today when there is still a huge challenge to Bermuda.
“We have unemployment, we have debt, we have a structural budget deficit, we have an economy that is unfair. We have lots of things which we have to do so there's excitement, yes, but there's also a measure of reality for the job ahead.”
Father of two Mr Burt said he was not daunted by the prospect of becoming Bermuda's youngest Premier, at the age of 38.
“We have a strong team, so we will wait to see what the results are and we will wait to go forward but right now we celebrate tonight and we get to work tomorrow.”
Mr Burt's sister, Winsome Burt-Smith, was less measured in her reaction. “My brother is Premier! Thank you Jesus!” she yelled.
His young nephews Trae and Terique Smith said they predicted the result.
Terique, 13, said: “It was expected. He's always been a leader. He's a people person — he's always out there. He gives to the people; he never holds back.”
Trae, 17, added: “I think he's going to be a great Premier. He is always an honest person.”
In 2012, Mr Burt won 415 votes in Pembroke West Central, compared with 332 for Mr Kempe and 87 for independent Phil Perinchief.
Mr Kempe was expecting a close vote after five years of canvassing in his neighbourhood.
He congratulated Mr Burt on his victory, before telling this newspaper: “I'm disappointed, obviously, but just want to thank everyone who came out to support me. As long as I'm living in the neighbourhood, I'm going to keep working in the neighbourhood.”
He described the overall result as “unfortunate”. The OBA, according to Mr Kempe, was “elected to fix a very dire economic situation. I think we achieved it in part and it's disappointing that we weren't able to finish a project, [so] we could start being expansive on spending again.”