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Three way battle for election as OBA deputy chairman

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Karen Magnum

Gym owner Karen Magnum wants to take her counselling skills onto a greater stage by stepping up her political involvement.

The One Bermuda Alliance deputy chairman contender, who co-owns Magnum Power Force Gym and Diet Centre, said: “For the past 20 years, I have nursed and counselled and now I want to do that for my Country.”

Ms Magnum, a counsellor at the Diet Centre, also has a background as a financial accountant and marketing director.

She said she initially joined the Bermuda Democratic Alliance because of her concerns over Bermuda's racial conflict, and moved to the OBA after the BDA merged with the United Bermuda Party.

“I believe our Country was torn apart by the use of race against each other and I couldn't sit and watch; I had to get involved,” she said.

She has plans for big political change, but has no intention of running as an MP under the Westminister system, which she describes as divisive.

“It pits people against each other when you need to work together,” she said.

“We need to help form the Government, then we can start changing things and give Bermuda more of a voice by referendum.”

On the formation of the OBA, she said: “This is where we have to move on. I want to see our politics mature in Bermuda so we are not worrying about what political party we are from.

“We need to focus on our Country, our problems, our people, and get away from these petty issues. I think our generation is sick of it.”

Michael Branco

Businessman Michael Branco believes his technological know-how can take the One Bermuda Alliance's general election campaign into the modern age.

Mr Branco, the senior vice president of technology solutions company Ignition, has been a key figure in launching the OBA's online presence through its website and Facebook page.

Explaining his bid for the post of deputy chairman, Mr Branco said: “In any upcoming election, campaigns are going to happen online, on blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter, all these social media channels.

“That's where I think I can really help the OBA and be at the centre of our technology strategy.”

He said previous political campaigns have focused on broadcasting and blanketing of constituents on doorsteps.

But he said: “Now politicians are engaged in two-way dialogues. Constituents get to have direct feedback on OBA Facebook, heavy duty discussions; MPs join into those threads.

“It's interesting to be one of the people who is putting those systems in place to make sure that's happening.”

Mr Branco noted his former party, the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, struggled to get younger voters to the poll at last year's Warwick South Central by-election.

“I haven't made a conscious decision to say my technology is going after younger voters,” he said.

“But what I saw in the by-election at Christmas was that it was difficult to get the younger voter out. A few of them didn't know who some of the politicians were.

“If you start to reach out using technology, that's a way to give them awareness of what's going on, find out what the issues are, get them engaged.”

Jeanne Atherden

Accountant Jeanne Atherden believes her experience in key political roles for the past three years can help guide the One Bermuda Alliance through its first general election.

Ms Atherden, the vice president of Paragon Brokers, was a United Bermuda Party Senator and chairman before the party merged with the Bermuda Democratic Alliance earlier this year.

Speaking of her bid for deputy chairman of the OBA, she said: “I believe in Bermuda. I believe that you have to put forward a party that can not only be an Opposition, a Government-in-waiting, but can also become Government itself.

“In order to do that, you have to put together a team that have ability, be prepared to be dedicated and be team players that put the Country first.

“I believe that I have done that and I'm prepared to continue doing that and that's what I put my name forward for deputy chairman.”

She said she's been encouraged by the number of recruits the OBA have gained as it tries to make headway on the political scene.

“New people are coming in and we are putting together some ideas, whereas before in the UBP we were finding we couldn't get the right people. That's what's making me feel good,” she said.

“I think that we knew we had to do something different and now we are all trying to work together to make things work.

“I'm prepared to provide input as we try to make people understand why we are putting forward suggestions.”

Ms Atherden was the Opposition leader in the Senate at the time of the merger and served as Shadow Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, while speaking for Finance in the Upper House.

Karen Magnum
Jeanne Atherden
Michael Branco

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Published September 10, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated September 10, 2011 at 8:36 am)

Three way battle for election as OBA deputy chairman

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