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PLP declares Lindsay Simmons for Smith’s North challenge

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More has to be done: David Burt, the Premier, with Lindsay Simmons, the PLP candidate for Smith’s North, and Cleveland Richardson, the party’s branch chairman for Constituency 10 (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

The governing party declared the senator Lindsay Simmons as its contender for the impending by-election in Smith’s North.

The announcement on Thursday came after the incumbent, opposition MP Michael Dunkley, announced his retirement from politics, effective at the end of this month.

Ms Simmons became a Progressive Labour Party senator in 2020, after she lost a General Election vote in Devonshire South Central to the One Bermuda Alliance’s Craig Cannonier.

Ms Simmons said: “Since that time, I have been committed to be a proud representative of the PLP Government — a government that prioritises our children and yet recognises that more has to be done.

“A government that is committed to ensuring our young people that age out of the foster care system have a place to transition to.”

Ms Simmons added: “I am so proud of this administration’s establishment of our independent living programme, which has become a beacon of hope for our children.

“It provides children who have aged out of government care a safe and secure place to further prepare them for the world.

“That is only one achievement I will mention but it is a critical one, and one that means the most to me.”

Ms Simmons earlier told a room full of supporters and media as her candidacy was announced: “My parents instilled in me the belief that each of us possesses the capacity to ignite positive change despite obstacles that we may face.

“I continually tell my story to raise awareness about the prevalence and impact of domestic violence in our community in hope that others will be empowered to seek help and healing.

“I have also shared how my experience led me to become the youngest foster parent in Bermuda’s history and why I continue to serve as the president of the foster parents association."

The voters of Constituency 10, which Mr Dunkley has held for the OBA since 2012, will have two months after the former premier steps down to select their next representative, under Section 51 of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968.

Ms Simmons will go against Robert King, of the OBA, a political newcomer who was announced on March 20.

Domestic violence focus: Lindsay Simmons, the senator, is announced by David Burt as the PLP's candidate for Constituency 10 — Smith's North (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

David Burt called her “a testament to the power of service, the importance of compassion and dedication to our community — especially our young people in foster care”.

He noted Ms Simmons’s chairing of the Bermuda Government Scholarship Committee as well as the board of trustees for CedarBridge Academy.

The Premier said she was “a champion for the vulnerable and a selfless servant”.

Cleveland Richardson, the PLP branch chairman for the constituency, added: “We the executive are elated to have such a fine candidate.”

The PLP contender said today: “Offering myself as a candidate for C10, Smith’s North, is just one of the latest steps on this journey that began at my parents’ dining room table, so many years ago.

“Over the past six months, I have been out canvassing on the doorsteps of C10.

“We didn’t know a by-election would be called, but we knew the candidates of C10 needed a PLP representative.

“In this time, I have listened to your concerns and wherever I could, I tried to help you with your challenges.

“When I think about Bermuda and some of the issues that are uniquely impacting the constituents of C10, I think about Store Hill and the challenges with the farm, I think about Bridle Hill and the challenges that residents — many of whom are seniors — are facing with their private road, and I also think about the areas that could be better lit up.”

Ms Simmons, who is the Junior Minister for Social Development and Seniors and Home Affairs, said she understood that constituents of Smith’s North wanted to be represented by someone who “listens, who cares, who speaks authentically and acts with integrity”.

She acknowledged Mr Dunkley as a “great MP”, adding: “I think I could work, if not equally as hard, then even harder.”

She added that she had been working the constituency since September.

Ms Simmons criticised remarks by Mr King that residents were emigrating because “their needs are not getting addressed by a Black government and a Black Civil Service”, saying “unfortunately he made a statement he should not have made” and then “doubled down”.

She added: “I am not here to talk about him.”

Recent trends at the polls suggest the PLP faces an uphill battle in Smith’s North.

Notably, it was the one seat where the OBA boosted its share of votes in the 2020 General Election.

Mr Dunkley increased his winning margin by eight percentage points against Ernest Peets, of the PLP, that year — 60.82 per cent to 39.18 per cent.

No challenger from the third party, the Free Democratic Movement, was put forward that year.

The 2020 results marked a significant win, compared with 52.26 per cent to 47.74 per cent in 2017 for the OBA, and 67.47 per cent to 32.53 per cent in 2012, when Mr Dunkley ousted Patrice Minors, of the PLP.

Since single-seat constituencies came into effect, the PLP has won there twice, in 2003 and 2007 — suggesting Smith’s North has the potential to be flipped by the PLP with the departure of a veteran politician known for canvassing heavily.

Bermuda’s last by-election was on October 5 in Smith’s South, which Ben Smith, of the OBA, won against the PLP’s Mischa Fubler.

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Published March 28, 2024 at 5:03 pm (Updated April 02, 2024 at 5:25 pm)

PLP declares Lindsay Simmons for Smith’s North challenge

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