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Candidates drawn to serve and unite island

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A Free Democratic Movement candidate said that a third option in Bermuda's political landscape could change the balance of power.

Christopher Gauntlett explained that his experience in the Royal Bermuda Regiment meant that he was used to putting himself forward and was “drawn” to public service.

Fellow FDM candidate Leighsa Darrell-Augustus added that she got involved to avoid “sitting on the wall complaining” and Enda Matthie believed that the island wanted a leadership that could help residents come together.

Mr Gauntlett, the owner of Blue Water Divers, chairman of the Historic Wrecks Authority and a member of the Bermuda Lionfish Taskforce, said he was in the RBR for about 15 years and finished as a company commander.

He explained: “I left service in the regiment in 2017, so that in some ways opened up some time in my schedule.

“Public service is sort of a draw for me. As a result of that period of service, you're kind of accustomed to raising your hand for certain things if something needs to get done.”

But standing in an election was not always in his plan.

Mr Gauntlett said: “My father was involved in politics many years ago when the OBA [One Bermuda Alliance] was not in existence and it was the UBP [United Bermuda Party].”

He added: “The reality that he found when he ran was that the message he very clearly got was that politics isn't for honest people.

“I'm in my forties now. That was when I was quite young, so that in many ways turned me off of politics up until now.”

The father of two is running in Southampton West, where he will face Scott Simmons, of the Progressive Labour Party, and the OBA's Karen Magnum.

He said: “Leaving aside that experience that my father had, even just looking at the political landscape from my adult life, it's always been very ... divisive is a good word, and it's always been one party versus the other party. I don't really feel that that serves the public in the best way possible

“I think that a legitimate third option has the potential to shift, or to affect certainly, the balance of power and it may mean that you have the opportunity there to get some things done in a way that isn't just the intent of the majority, whoever the majority of the day might happen to be.”

Mr Gauntlett said: “I have a bit of resilience when it comes to certain things and I'm very much driven by what is the right thing to do.”

He added that he would “rather have things done properly and in the right way” even if it was the more difficult option.

Ms Darrell-Augustus, who faces Diallo Rabain, of the PLP, and Charlie Swan, of the OBA, in Devonshire North Central, said she was an active member of the community.

She said: “I was tired of just sitting on the wall complaining. I just think I need to get up and make change if I want to see change.”

The mother of two grown sons, who has worked in hospitality and the public sector, added that she hoped to see greater collaboration after the General Election “as opposed to one party dominating and ruling”.

She said: “We just need to work together as Bermudians to make this place great.”

Ms Matthie, a mother of an adult son, is standing for the FDM in Pembroke West Central, where David Burt, the Premier, is the PLP's candidate and Nick Kempe will battle for the OBA.

Ms Matthie, who hit the headlines when she staged a hunger strike on Cabinet grounds in protest at OBA policies in 2016, has a background in the field of personal transformation.

She started her own company in 2011 and is “dedicated to supporting spiritual growth and advancement for all” — a commitment she says she brings to her candidacy.

Ms Matthie added: “I think people need a strong stance of encouragement and assurance and ... the type of leadership that mobilises us so that we unify.

“We accept that it may be frightening and that people are hurting and that people are going through hard times and, should we mobilise to unify, we include everybody.

“It's that same concept of each one, reach one because we all have to help each other.”

Christopher Gauntlett, a Free Democratic Movement candidate (Photograph supplied)
Leighsa Darrell-Augustus, a Free Democratic Movement candidate (Photograph supplied)
Enda Matthie, a Free Democractic Movement candidate (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 21, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated September 21, 2020 at 2:09 pm)

Candidates drawn to serve and unite island

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