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Candidates confirmed for Smith’s North by-election

Three-way race: Constituency 10 candidates Robert King, of the One Bermuda Alliance, Lindsay Simmons, of the Progressive Labour Party, and independent candidate Sir John Swan shake hands yesterday at Christ Anglican Church in Devonshire, after signing their nomination papers for the May 22 by-election (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The by-election in Smith’s North on May 22 will be a three-horse race after a trio of candidates signed nomination papers officially confirming they will be standing in the poll.

Government senator Lindsay Simmons is up against Robert King, of the One Bermuda Alliance, and Sir John Swan, the former premier, who is standing as an independent candidate.

All three candidates and their supporters arrived at Christ Anglican Church in Devonshire yesterday to sign nomination papers for the by-election, which was called after the resignation of OBA MP Michael Dunkley in March.

There was good-hearted exchanges between the three, with Sir John greeting his political rivals with handshakes and hugs.

Sir John, 88, who confirmed his candidacy just last week, said that he had conducted “very little” canvassing in the constituency, but added that he was ”reaching out in his own way“ to voters not only in Smith’s North but across the island.

“Foot canvassing — very little, because this has just gotten going in a very short period of time.

“I believe I will reach everybody by way of the communication process, but modern Bermuda, with the technology and media and social processes and communication that takes place … foot canvassing was something you did in old Bermuda when you didn’t have these tools to work with.

“Again, we’re using old tools to try and achieve new things. Why don’t we use new tools to achieve the same things but in a more efficient way?

“I want to bring Bermuda up to speed to a point that we don’t worry about cyberattacks and the insecurities that we now have with some of this lawlessness, which is only because of the deterioration of some of the upper level of our system that filters down.”

Sir John repeated his claim that the party system had run its course and was not serving Bermuda well.

He acknowledged that, if he wins the May 22 contest, he will have little influence on the Government.

However he insisted his reason for standing was to give the constituents of Smith’s North an opportunity to be “catalysts for change”, an inspire more people to stand as independent candidates at the next General Election.

Ms Simmons said that she deserved the support of voters because she was dedicated to the people of the constituency and had proved that she was someone who works for the people of Bermuda.

The senator, who was supported by government backbenchers Jamahl Simmons, Zane DeSilva and Jaché Adams, said: “My life is about service. I give of myself every day to make sure that Bermuda is a better place. I’m here for the people, no matter what party your allegiance. I’ll be here for everybody.

“I think the people of C10 can recognise that I’m a worker, I work for them and people are happy to see their PLP representative so I think with that I think I will be able to get more of the votes and win the election.”

Mr King, who worked in probation services for 30 years before entering politics, was the first to arrive at the church hall, accompanied by his wife, and OBA leader Jarion Richardson and deputy leader Ben Smith.

Asked why he should be the next MP for the constituency, he said: “When you look at how things currently are being experienced by the underserved, the elderly, children, the community as a whole under the current administration, we see a lot of problems.

“Health and safety is not being addressed, infrastructure — Senator Lindsay Simmons is taking out trash for the Government as opposed to the Government doing the job — ambulances not being able to make emergency calls.

“There’s a problem of prioritisation of what the issues are, listening to the people and actually doing something about it.”

Mr King said that when the OBA achieved a great deal when in office between 2012 and 2017, including the building of a new airport, two hotels, and bringing the America’s Cup to Bermuda.

He said: ”Imagine what we can do if we’re allowed to do the job for the benefit of the country as opposed to taking care of the few who are at the top.“

Referring to the present administration’s leadership style, Mr King said: “The attitude is, ‘we will say this today and say something completely different tomorrow. Disregard everything that we say and believe everything that we say’.

“People are upset and they’re tired of the way things have been running. Any effort that they take to protest is shut down.

“We have to do better. The current administration keeps telling the people that it’s doing its job to the best of its abilities and we’re seeing evidence to the contrary day after day.

“Winning seat 10 convincingly and emphatically is what this country needs to prosper once again. We’ve already shown that we can do it before. All we need is a chance.”

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