Whoever wins has work to do in St David’s
The latest in
The Royal Gazette’s series on marginal constituencies,
Owain Johnston-Barnes takes a look at St David’s.
The largest constituency in terms of voter numbers, St David’s was one of the areas most affected by changes to the electoral boundaries.
Nearly 200 voters have been moved by border changes, which moved the Dolly’s Bay area and a stretch of homes north of Tommy Fox Road to St George’s South.
However, the constituency retained the Emergency Housing facility on Southside Road, cited as an influential factor in the 2007 election.
The UBP’s Suzann Roberts Holshouser defeated the PLP’s Danvers Seymour by a margin of just 15 votes in 2003; by the 2007 election the number of registered voters in the constituency had risen by more than 300.
In the subsequent election, the PLP’s Lovitta Foggo toppled Mrs Holshouser by 90 votes.
This year Ms Foggo will defend her seat against rookie OBA candidate Gaylynne Cannonier.
Along with the iconic St David’s Lighthouse and the St David’s Battery, the constituency contains several small businesses including St David’s Variety and the Black Horse Tavern.
The constituency is also home to Clearwater Middle School, St David’s Primary School and St David’s Preschool.
The Royal Gazette that the economy was a chief concern. The 2010 Census found 16 percent of St David’s households were making less than $36,000 a year, compared to a national average of 11 percent.
One Cashew City resident said: “Ten years ago I was having a hard time paying rent, and things have only gotten worse since then.
“People are getting laid off and the bills are just getting higher. It’s a struggle, plain and simple.”
He said that he knew many people who had moved to the East and West ends where rent was cheaper, but the rising cost of living made even more affordable living conditions difficult to manage.
He highlighted some improvements over the past few years such as the creation of the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre in the neighbouring constituency, but said more work is still needed.
“Some areas need better lighting, a lot of the older roads need to be widened and the cliff faces need to be reinforced,” he said. “Whoever wins has work to do.”
Ronald Burchall said his vote will go to Ms Cannonier in the coming election: “In my honest opinion, [Ms Foggo] hasn’t really done anything. There were things that she said she was going to do that were never done. She didn’t stick to what she said.
“I like the OBA. I’m behind them 100 percent. I think they can bring back our economy. Most everybody in their group are business minded and well educated. I think Gaylynne is a very spiritual person. She was born and raised in St David’s.”
He said he felt Bermuda has deteriorated in recent years: “It’s worse. Bermuda is too much on debt. There are too many cars in the road. I see the Ministers joyriding around in their GP cars, and I don’t go for all of that.
“If the PLP was doing a good job, then yes, but it’s going to be ten, 15 years before they can get us back on track and the OBA can do it much faster.”
Russell Richardson said he remains committed to the PLP.
“I remember when I couldn’t vote. I remember the PLP fought for me to be able to vote. I think they brought in a lot of social programmes and have really brought things so far ahead.
“The economy is going to get better. People are blaming the Government, but it’s the whole world economy that’s in trouble.”
He said he has not been visited by Ms Cannonier.
“I would speak to her if she’s willing to answer questions. Right now [the OBA] seem reluctant to answer questions, locally and nationally.”
Mr Richardson said that while St David’s has avoided the worst of the gang violence the Island has experienced, his biggest concern is crime.
He also said he hopes to see St David’s tourism potential better utilised.
“We have so much history in St David’s that could help our tourism product and we need to build on it,” he said.
Former area MP Arthur Pitcher, who ran under the PLP banner, said he was confident that Ms Foggo would win the coming election because he didn’t believe Ms Cannonier was connected to the community.
“She said she was born in St David’s, but that’s about it,” he said.
A Lighthouse Hill woman disagreed, saying she felt confident Ms Cannonier would be the victor.
“Businesses are closing, people are losing jobs, and there are a lot of people angry at the Government,” she said.
“Government made a lot of promises last time and a lot of them just never came, or became something different.”
She said she understood that Government didn’t expect the economy to fall as far as it did and she wasn’t confident they could return it to its past success.
“I see a lot of PLP ads online, but I don’t see any ads for Bermuda,” she said. “I think they are more focused on winning the election than they are on improving things. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. It’s backwards.”
She said she would like to see a new grocery store in St David’s to replace White’s, and hoped more could be done with existing buildings at the former baselands.
Said another St David’s resident: “Businesses are closing. We are not doing enough in the tourism sector. We are just not doing enough. The list just goes on. It’s education and the debt. We are in so much debt.
“There are a lot of issues. It’s the social issues, it’s the crime. Something has got to be done. Bermuda needs to reinvent itself, but with the people at the helm I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
She said she will be supporting Ms Cannonier on election day.
“Gaylynne is a wonderful person. She’s respectable with a passionate drive. She has integrity and she’s already been doing stuff. She’s got lights fixed in my neighbourhood already.”
Another St David’s resident said he felt the PLP would bring about more opportunities.
“I think they have done a lot to give people a leg up,” he said. “Not everything has gone well, but people are getting chances.”
He said he was still largely unaware of what the OBA plans to do if elected, but he didn’t trust the party’s similarities to the UBP.
“There are a few new names, but then you have guys like [Michael] Dunkley and [Grant] Gibbons running around,” he said. “Nothing’s changed. It’s a new name, but everything else is just the UBP.”
ECONOMYUnemployment, the closing of businesses, and a rising cost of living were frequently cited as a major concern for the people of St David’s.
Many St David’s residents lamented a collapse of neighbourhood communities, calling for a return of social values.
Some blamed an influx of new people to the area as the reason for a weakened local community; others said the local issues simply reflected the national situation.