Pettingill to run against Butler
One Bermuda Alliance MP Mark Pettingill has handed his safe Opposition constituency to former political rival Jeff Sousa.
The OBA yesterday unveiled Mr Pettingill as its general election candidate for Warwick North East, where he faces a likely uphill battle against popular Progressive Labour Party MP Dale Butler.
Mr Sousa will fight in Warwick West, the area Mr Pettingill has served since the 2007 election, a traditional United Bermuda Party area expected to be one of the OBA’s strongest constituencies.
The pair were UBP colleagues until Mr Pettingill quit to help form the Bermuda Democratic Alliance in 2009.
Mr Sousa then became the UBP’s representative for Warwick West, clashing frequently with Mr Pettingill who was that area’s MP for the BDA.
Both became founding members of the OBA earlier this year.
Meanwhile environmentalist Ray Charlton was unveiled as the Alliance’s candidate for Sandys North, a solid PLP seat currently held by Estates Minister Michael Scott.
At a press conference yesterday, party leader Craig Cannonier described Mr Sousa as a passionate guy who will exhaust himself getting the job done, said Mr Pettingill works night and day on his ideas to get Bermuda back on track, and Mr Charlton is dedicated to making the required changes on the Island, particularly on environmental issues.
Explaining his switch, Mr Pettingill told the media the OBA has to show it is committed to real change.
“We have to have people stand up and run in areas that are marginals,” he said.
Yesterday, there was no hint of the animosity which led to Mr Sousa accusing Mr Pettingill of lying over the reasons he quit the UBP, and Mr Pettingill sarcastically dubbing Mr Sousa “Mr Environment” who had only risen through the party’s ranks because its pool of talent was so shallow.
Mr Pettingill said yesterday of Mr Sousa: “Jeff is a hard-working man. He knows the area, people know him, this is his passion.”
Mr Sousa said of Mr Pettingill: “Mark’s move to Constituency 25 represents the kind of commitment to change that Bermuda needs if we are to see our way back to safety and prosperity.
“Mark, you are what our leader means when he talks about leadership by example, and I salute you for it.”
Mr Pettingill was asked if he now regretted leaving the UBP to form the short-lived BDA.
He replied: “I stand by the move at the time. We want change, we knew people wanted change. We put ourselves out there with a view to change.
“The BDA came together because we needed to do something. We can’t allow this Government to continue the way it is.
“It was a real evolution to get here. You can’t plan that kind of thing.”
Mr Pettingill, 47, a prominent defence lawyer who grew up in Warwick North East, challenged Mr Butler for that seat in 2003, losing by just 38 votes. Four years later, Mr Butler defeated Gina Spence-Farmer of the UBP by 68 votes.
The seat is thought to have gained white voters following recent boundary changes but, unlike most PLP MPs, Mr Butler believes much of his support actually comes from the white community.
Mr Sousa, 51, the president of Sousa’s Landscape Management in Warwick, fought for the UBP in the 2007 election but lost to former PLP Premier Alex Scott in Warwick South East.
Mr Charlton, 53, a technical specialist and the vice president of Keytech company Cable Co with West End roots, has been a keen spokesman on environmental issues recently.
He has been critical of plans to develop Tucker’s Point and of Government’s Heritage Wharf project.
Mr Sousa said: “I enjoy talking with constituents and, like them, I am very concerned about the direction we are going as an Island.
“I know seniors who lock themselves in their homes for fear of crime. I know young people who are afraid to travel to the next parish for fear of being caught in the wrong territory.
“These are the kinds of things people live with each day. They cannot be allowed to continue. We have to fight for change, for something better.”
Mr Charlton said: “Without knowing it, my parents instilled in me a strong appreciation for our neighbours, our guest visitors, our environment and the natural beauty of our Island.
“It is this respect for the environment, my concern for the loss of open spaces and the threats to conservation land that has been the motivation for me to move from complaining and inaction to becoming fully engaged.”
Useful website: www.oba.bm.