My generation is desperate, says OBA’s young new candidate
Desperation has driven young people to become more involved in politics, according to a new young political candidate.
Sophia Tessitore, 21, added that several existential threats, particularly lower job diversity and a lack of preparation for the future, are forcing young people to attempt to call the shots – or consider leaving the island.
Ms Tessitore said: “We’re just kind of desperate. Most people in their youth who are just starting out in their careers, their education and their lives don’t really want to throw their hat into the ring and try their hand at politics.”
She added: “The criticisms and insults that I’ve faced just because of my op-ed are a lot, and I understand why people don’t want to open up to that – but they’re putting themselves through that because they actually need their voices to be heard and feel that they really need to make a change.
“I think it’s good, but it’s also a sign of where we are.”
Ms Tessitore was speaking after she was announced last month as one of the One Bermuda Alliance party’s newest approved candidate.
She is also the youngest current member of the party, and the youngest person to join the OBA since Dwayne Robinson in 2018 at the age of 23.
Ms Tessitore, from Pembroke, said that the cost of living was her biggest concern – and a major concern for other young people – regarding the future of Bermuda.
She said that those with lower-paying jobs struggled to make ends meet regardless of how essential the profession was.
Ms Tessitore added that many industries, particularly the creative industry, were dying as people searched for more viable careers, sometimes by leaving the island.
She said: “A lot of the youth are thinking, ‘why would we want to live here if we can’t find a job in our career that we’ve spent thousands of dollars studying for?’.
“I’ve been in a space where I’ve worked three jobs, made over $1,000 a week and I still wouldn’t have been able to afford an apartment or live on my own as a single person.
“How do you expect people to want to stay here and start families? That’s borderline impossible.”
Ms Tessitore said that supporting small businesses and using Bermuda as a venue for international events would improve the economy and lower the cost of living.
She added that improvements to the education system, such as offering trade schools, would also improve the economy, but she admitted that she did not have faith that it would be well managed under this Government.
Ms Tessitore explained: “When I went to Dellwood, we had issues with our plumbing and mould quite often.
“I would overhear my teachers talk about how they had to reach into their own pockets to pay for supplies and how they were frustrated with the Ministry of Education.
“I remember being in middle school and seeing the teachers strike.”
Ms Tessitore added: “I get concerned when I hear ‘we’re going to build a new signature school and completely change our education system’.
“The last few times changes happened it did not end well, so there’s just a track record.”
Ms Tessitore said that she became involved in politics because of her background in activism and long-held interest in societal problems.
She said that she had been involved with The Village, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group at Bermuda College, eventually becoming its president last year.
Ms Tessitore added that she thought she would get into politics later in life, but had been approached by Dwayne Robinson over the summer.
She said: “He saw all the work I’d been doing and my presence on social media and reached out, saying, ‘we like the advocacy you brought to the House of Assembly. Are you interested?’
“It eventually turned into me becoming a candidate and running whenever I get confirmed a constituency.”
Ms Tessitore admitted that she had faced criticism due to her age, with many claiming she was too young to understand the nuances of Bermudian politics and policies from the past few decades.
But she added that she frequently experienced problems first-hand, such as dealing with underfunding within the education system, and believed it was important for her to get involved.
“At the end of the day we’re going to have to grow up in this economy, and we’re going to have to live through it and the aftermath of the current decisions being made by the Government for the rest of our lives.
“We’re going to have to deal with this 20 to 30 years from now, and if we want to start families of anything like that then this current economy is definitely going to affect us.”