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Smith named deputy chairman of OBA

New Blood: Tarik Smith, left, shaked hands with OBA chairman Justin Mathias

Businessman Tarik Smith is the new deputy chairman of the One Bermuda Alliance.

Mr Smith, who runs the Bermuda Commercial Laundry and Ord Road Laundry, was elected to fill the vacancy left by Justin Mathias, who was promoted to party chairman last month.

He joins senator Nandi Outerbridge as one of the party’s two deputy chairmen.

Mr Smith, 38, from Warwick, joined the OBA this year and is the adopted candidate for Warwick South East.

He said: “I wanted to make a difference by bringing new, fresh and some unconventional ideas to the table.

“Bringing in new people who have a different perspective can help in many ways. I had been to a few party caucus meetings and I heard that nominations for the post had been requested.

“At the time, I felt I might have been too new to the party, but after considerable thought and after some members stressed that it was a good idea to have that different view, I put my name forward.”

The OBA said Mr Smith has supported the party since its inception, and helped Jeff Sousa canvass during the 2012 General Election.

He was confirmed by the OBA Candidate Selection Committee as the adopted candidate for Constituency 24 last month as the replacement for former senator Nalton Brangman, who lost to the Progressive Labour Party’s Lawrence Scott at the 2017 election.

Mr Smith, a former Berkeley Institute pupil, said: “My decision to join came after a conversation with a party member who felt my ideas could help. At first, I did not think I would be listened to, but I’ve found that to be untrue, as people within the party are very willing to listen.”

The OBA was beaten by 24 seats to 12 at the 2017 election, and lost a further seat at the Warwick North East by-election in June.

Several high-profile party members have stepped aside or been fired, including MPs Grant Gibbons and Jeff Baron, chairman Nick Kempe and senator Andrew Simons, over the past few months.

Mr Smith said: “I believe the OBA has governed Bermuda better than other administrations given the circumstances, and we just have to get our finger back on the pulse of the people of Bermuda.

“I feel that they were working so hard to turn the economy around that the party lost sight of the people during the latter years as government.

“We must remember we are in this to serve Bermuda and her people, and not ourselves. We must not forget that.”

He said he wanted to concentrate on reinvigorating the party’s membership.

He added: “I want to introduce new people to the party with fresh creative ideas on how to move forward.

“I also want to hear from our members, past and present, in the hope that all of us can work together to rebuild our standing with the people of Bermuda, who I believe will be better led by an OBA government.”

OBA leader Jeanne Atherden said: “Tarik brings youth, enthusiasm, vitality and new ideas. I think he has a long future within the OBA and is someone who everyone can identify with.”