Former candidate to run in Pembroke South East
Rolfe Commissiong, once deemed unelectable by his own branch chairman, was yesterday announced as the Progressive Labour Party’s candidate for Pembroke South East, or district 21.
Premier Paula Cox described Mr Commissiong as someone who was passionate and uncompromising.
The Premier told the assembled media that Mr Commissiong had been “very instrumental” in ensuring that Government followed through on establishing Job Corps and Career Pathways — both recommended by the Mincy Report.
In his prepared remarks, Mr Commissiong recalled his first attempt at electoral office in 1994 when he ran in the Paget East by-election and, again, in the 2007 general election for Paget West.
“While unsuccessful in that 1994 by-election, I and the party took moral comfort from the fact that we had established the principle under then leader, L Frederick Wade, that the PLP would always be the party of second chances for those Bermudians who were so deserving,” he said.
“This is a principle that other political parties and the country at large would also come to embrace.
“As a man of faith I value the principles that I and the Progressive Labour Party stand for; the values and principles that honour the redemptive qualities found in us all, the values and principles that compel us to live our lives with integrity, recognising the unlimited potential of God’s grace upon us.
“These are the same values and principles along with my work ethic I promise to bring to the people and constituents of Pembroke South East.”
Mr Commissiong had successfully challenged incumbent Ashfield DeVent for the branch’s nomination in a selection contest last year. The outcome created considerable anxiety among branch executives, including Chairman Kyjuan Brown who was reported to be concerned about Mr Commissiong’s electability.
Yesterday, Dr Brown told
The Royal Gazette that his concerns had been alleviated by Mr Commissiong’s hard work in the district over the last few months.
“Mr Commissiong has been working tirelessly in the community,” he said. “We’ve done some recent polling which signified that he had made considerable advancement since our last polling results which made me proud.
“So I feel very confident that people have gravitated towards him.”
He added: “What people in area 21 have to say is that they want to see someone working and Mr Commissiong has been out on the doorstep for quite some time working.”
Among his accomplishments in the district, Dr Brown said was cleaning up some of the areas in and around Fenton’s Drive, is working on road works in the area and a street sign and stop light at the junction of the old Pembroke Rest Home.
“We’re all on the same page now and I’m very happy about that,” Mr Commissiong said.
“I’ve always had significant support within the branch and we’re now working together as one. And I think that we’ve become an unbeatable team.”
The One Bermuda Alliance has not yet announced its candidate for the district, but Khalid Wasi, also known as Raymond Davis, has declared his intention to run as an independent.
Mr DeVent, for his part, said he has not yet made a decision on whether he would run as an independent. Asked for his reaction to Mr Commissiong’s candidacy announcement, he said: “The country gets the leadership it deserves.”
Dr Brown said he had not spoken to Mr DeVent about his plans.
“That would be inappropriate. I have to support the candidate that was elected by the constituency itself. And they have chosen outrightly Mr Commissiong,” he said.
“This was his [Mr DeVent’s] branch for a considerable number of years and he’s welcome to assist in any way possible so we can retain the seat and retain government.”
He said that Mr DeVent had indicated following Mr Commissiong’s selection that he would “support the party until his dying breath”.
Former Premier Ewart Brown appointed Mr Commissiong his consultant on race matters, a position he held for four years. Ms Cox kept him on to work on the Mincy Report recommendations.
In the 2007 general election, Mr DeVent handily won the seat for the PLP scoring 67 percent of the vote against Tilman Darrell of the United Bermuda Party.
Just 62 percent of the district’s registered voters showed up at the polling station — the lowest turnout of the election.