Another contender eyes Rural West nomination

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Shawn Benjamin is the second member of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) to publicly declare that he wants to run on the party’s ticket in St. John’s Rural West in the next general elections.
Benjamin, 28 years old, made the announcement in an exclusive interview with OBSERVER media on Wednesday in which he also said that he would take his chances at a primary before agreeing to step aside. He said he has already written to the party to indicate his interest in becoming the candidate.
“I think the most suitable candidate should be the one to go forward… and I feel that I am the most suitable candidate,” he told OBSERVER media.
The only other ‘comrade’ to publicly declare an interest in the seat is Aziza Lake, government-appointed Senator. OBSERVER media is not aware of who might have told the party that he or she is interested in a run in that constituency, but a source told our newsroom that the party’s leadership does not wish Londel Benjamin, another Senator, to run there a second time.
Last week, Londel said that he would not comment on his future candidacy until that question is resolved between him and the Gaston Browne-led ABLP. In June 2014, Londel lost the seat to then-incumbent Baldwin Spencer but managed to leave Spencer, by then a two-term sitting prime minister, with a meager 30-vote margin of victory. Shawn meanwhile, has said that while he support’s Londel’s work in the constituency, he feels that a younger candidate is what the constituents want.
He was less forgiving when asked about Spencer’s record in the constituency, calling it unimpressive “especially as a prime minister.” Shawn sees unemployment as a major issue among young people that requires direct action, and which has not been addressed by the sitting member of parliament.
“We have skilled young men and women in that constituency and their skills are being crippled by being underutilised,” he said.
He further argued that business owners should be engaged by the government in an effort to “mobilize the young people” through “internships” and even more structured training programmes. This, he believes, will allow idle youth “to develop an interest in work” after which they can go forward in different areas.
The potential candidate said that he grew up on Buckley’s Street in Green Bay, attended the Green Bay primary school, the Otto’s Comprehensive secondary school and later studied hospitality in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He now puts those skills to work as the Evening Duty Manager at the Pineapple Beach Club.
Shawn and his brother, Shane Benjamin, said that they are better known in Gray’s Farm and elsewhere in the constituency as “the twins,” and they are co-founders of a small business, Uptown Car Rental Taxi and Import Service.

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