By-election: Simons ‘very connected’ to area
Andrew Simons, the One Bermuda Alliance's candidate for Devonshire North Central, believes that the Island is beginning to recuperate after years of recession.
“Things are getting better, but to continue that progress we need to grapple with complicated issues,” Mr Simons told The Royal Gazette as he canvassed the constituency. “There are some problems that can only be tackled through the political process. It's not just a question of money or funding. Sometimes you have to pass new legislation, improve existing legislation, and hold people accountable.”
Mr Simons grew up in Spanish Point but lives in Devonshire, and has fond personal links to the constituency through his fiancée who grew up there. She bought and is now renovating a house on Mary Victoria Road.
“When I was running in the General Election, I would come up here to her parents' house,” Mr Simons said. “I feel very connected here.”
For this campaign, Mr Simons had to tender his resignation as acting captain in the Royal Bermuda Regiment, where he has served since 2007.
In 2009, he was commissioned as an officer, and has served on response teams in the past two hurricane seasons. He said he had seen Regiment troops struggling to cover their family's basic needs.
The subject that initially drew him to politics was health policy. His cousin Katherine Michelmore, a founding member of the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, “twisted my arm to get involved in the OBA once it formed”, Mr Simons said.
“I was on the shadow health board because of my background in bioscience, bioengineering, and my work in insurance. I have now spent four years working on health policy issues in Bermuda.”
His speciality if elected would be “the broader subject of long-term care and the challenge of ensuring that we can all age well — the combination of healthcare policy, public and private financing and pensions”.
“That is the complicated problem that I would want to be involved in, and that's going to require joint planning between the ministries of health and finance and the other helping agencies.”
He expressed pride in the new power of the Bermuda Health Council to bring employers to court when they failed to cover health insurance for their staff.
Mr Simons added: “I would be remiss if I didn't mention public access to information and open data. I am a huge believer in the principles of openness in civil society and government: open access to information with that additional layer of inquiry and accountability.”
The website Bermuda.io, a repository of government financial data and other information, was “totally apolitical”.
However his big hope for the site, which Mr Simons cofounded with Louis Galipeau, is that people would “not simply look at the data, but that individual citizens and journalists would ask new questions and use that newly available information”.
Much of the constituency's voters live in a series of close-knit communities encircling its rural interior. Mr Simons said his canvassing had been based on hearing their concerns.
“I do not do much talking when I canvass, and I almost never find myself talking about politics,” he said. “It's more important for me to listen than to talk.”