OBA unveils more election candidates
Suzann Roberts-Holshouser and Sylvan Richards have confirmed they will fight to retain their eastern parish seats for the One Bermuda Alliance at the General Election.
Michael Dunkley took the occasion to hit back at Opposition criticism over debt increases under the OBA’s watch, calling finance minister Bob Richards “the best in the history of Bermuda”.
Countering what he called “Burt maths”, in a comeback to Opposition leader David Burt, the Premier said debt had increased 700 per cent under the PLP’s tenure — and that the OBA had no choice but to borrow further upon assuming Government in order to pay the salaries of civil servants.
Yesterday’s announcement came with two challengers in Progressive Labour Party seats: Peter Barrett, who campaigned in Hamilton East in 2012, and Simone Barton, a newcomer to the political fray.
Ms Roberts-Holshouser is the second woman in the island’s history to serve as the Deputy Speaker of the House, while Mr Richards is the Minister of the Environment.
Ms Roberts-Holshouser will represent the OBA in St George’s South, where she will face Tineé Furbert of the PLP. She spoke of her intention to see further legislation passed to broaden access to cannabis-based medicines, noting that one of her constituents, now deceased, had been the first to gain access to such treatment when cannabinoid pharmaceuticals were approved.
She also extolled the Cash Back for Communities programme.
Mr Barrett will again run in Hamilton East, where the incumbent in one of the PLP’s safest seats is long-serving MP Derrick Burgess.
A member of the Hamilton Parish Council as well as the Liquor Licensing Board, Mr Barrett emphasised the OBA’s stewardship of the economy, saying the party had gained power at a time of “job losses, empty apartments and a depleted treasury”.
“In recent times there has never been so many people working in Bermuda,” he said.
“The Alliance will continue to pursue policies that will move Bermuda forward, and together.”
Ms Barton, CEO of the Bermuda Heart Foundation, will challenge in Hamilton West, which Wayne Furbert holds for the PLP.
“My passion is the health of our community,” she said, telling the media she was “not running against a party or person — I am running today to serve you, and if I am lucky enough to get your vote, I promise I will make you proud”.
Mr Richards will remain in Hamilton South, which he won at the 2012 election by defeating Diallo Rabain, who has since entered Parliament after winning a by-election in Devonshire North Central.
The minister detailed his commitments from 2012 that he had acted upon, such as securing changing rooms and bathrooms for John Smith’s Bay.
The Pink Beach property, “dilapidated and sad” in 2012, now has a “beautiful” resort that has made a difference in the area, and Mr Richards said he had also kept busy in the community with events such as Good Friday on Smith’s Parish Field, and developing connections with the Cleveland Cricket Club.
The OBA has now revealed 15 of its candidates for the election, which Mr Dunkley has called for July 18.
The Premier closed the announcement by countering PLP criticism of the OBA record on education, saying the education budget for 2010-11 had been $126 million, while “the next year the budget was cut to $106 million”.
“Don’t come talking to me about budget cuts,” he said.
The OBA has taken flak over mould outbreaks in schools while the Cabinet building was being abated, but the Premier called such attacks “laughable”, saying officials had been ordered out of the building by the health and safety officer.
“In 14 years, the schools fell apart under the PLP Government. Now we’re starting to slowly but surely fix them up.”