PLP chooses former Accountant General to fight by-election
Former Accountant General Anthony Richardson was yesterday unveiled as the Progressive Labour Party's candidate for the Devonshire South Central by-election.
Mr Richardson, 47, who has risen through the ranks to PLP treasurer, said his extensive record of community service makes him the ideal man to represent Constituency 12.
He will take on One Bermuda Alliance leader Senator Craig Cannonier at the by-election on Tuesday, November 1; Sen Cannonier needs to win to get into the House of Assembly and become the official Opposition Leader.
The constituency was formerly a United Bermuda Party stronghold, with John Barritt claiming 722 votes to PLP representative Linda Merritt's 122 in the 2007 general election.
But constituent David Sullivan, a former UBP campaign chairman, warned Sen Cannonier not to expect the UBP support to simply transfer to the OBA.
“There's a great deal of angst in Devonshire South Central with regard to this parachutist approach to candidate selection,” said Mr Sullivan of the OBA's choice of Sen Cannonier.
It's believed Mr Richardson was selected at a PLP meeting on Saturday; other potential candidates Ms Merritt and Senator Jonathan Smith were at yesterday's announcement to show their support.
Mr Richardson, who sits on the Price Control Commission, told a press conference at Alaska Hall he will listen to residents' concerns over the rising cost of living.
He also said he would use his own life experience to guide young black males who are struggling in today's society.
He said as a young man he worked as a bus boy at Grotto Bay and Coral Island hotels to earn enough money to go to university and qualify as an accountant.
“There are many males that grew up in single parent families. After a point, that's not necessarily an obstacle to progress,” he said.
“After a while, you have to make up your minds to achieve what you want to achieve.”
Mr Richardson is a former Accountant General, vice president at Bank of Bermuda, CEO of Bermuda Health Council, chairman of Bermuda Educators Council and chairman of Bermuda Hospitals Board. He has also served as a lecturer at Bermuda College and a police officer, and on the Hospital Insurance Commission, YouthNet, Bermuda Football Association and the Golf Course Trustees of Bermuda.
He is currently chairman of the Bermuda Parents, Teachers and Students Association and a guest presenter on the Hope and Good Cheer radio broadcast.
Mr Richardson described himself as an average Bermudian and said being the father of two young children gives him the impetus to represent the next generation.
“I think I have the same concerns as the average voter,” he said.
“Service to the community from elected office is a humbling opportunity that should not be taken lightly.
“My decision was not taken lightly, especially since many voters consider Devonshire South Central to be a safe seat for the Opposition.
“Notwithstanding the historical voting in the constituency, I will not be deterred. I will not take the voters for granted. I will canvass, listen to their concerns and try to provide solutions. In summary, I will be available and responsive to their needs.
“I understand that in this changing Bermuda, voters do not want candidates that take their votes for granted.
“The voters in Devonshire South Central can therefore reject the assumptions made by the OBA. They can be bold and courageous. They can return a PLP candidate for the first time. They can vote for the best candidate and not simply vote on party lines.”
Premier Paula Cox described Mr Richardson as a standard bearer for the party, adding: “He is a young man with a passion to make a difference in his community.”
Mr Sullivan, who ran for the UBP against Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess in the PLP stronghold Hamilton East at the last election, said many constituents are upset Sen Cannonier was selected to fight the seat simply because he won the new party's leadership contest earlier this month.
“We were never asked [by Mr Barritt] our opinion of offering our seat as a prize to the winner of some political beauty contest,” he commented on this newspaper's website.
“Now to add insult to injury we have to read in The Royal Gazette that we are having a by-election in order to validate what we had no voice in all along.
“Many of the constituents that I have spoken to over this weird period are equally upset with the way we have been taken for granted.”
Mr Barritt has endorsed Sen Cannonier for the post, describing his leadership victory over Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards as a very important primary.
UBP leader Kim Swan has declined to say whether his party will field any candidates. No independent candidates are yet confirmed, with nomination day on Wednesday, October 12.
Useful websites: www.plp.bm, www.oba.bm, www.onebda.com