By Orville Williams
At least five young adults under 35 and four women will represent the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) in the next general election, after the party unveiled a full slate of candidates during its long-awaited campaign launch last night.
A modest but vocal crowd at the Johnson’s Sports Complex (JSC) was treated to rousing presentations from the candidates, including party leader Joanne Massiah, who revealed that she will be contesting the St Phillip South constituency, taking on the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s (ABLP) Lennox Weston and the United Progressive Party’s (UPP) Sherfield Bowen.
DNA Chairperson, Malaka Parker, will be vying for the St John’s Rural West constituency, joined by fellow women candidates Chaneil Imhoff in St Peter and Tecla Thomas in All Saints East & St Luke.
The other candidates include Gameal Joyce – St Paul, Roland Timothy – St John’s City South, Kisean Joseph – St Mary’s North, Andrew Antonio – St Mary’s South, Trevor Young – St John’s Rural East, Leon Smith – St John’s City East, Anthony Stuart – All Saints West, Kelton Dalso – St George, Gatesworth James – St John’s City West, Louis Rivera – St John’s Rural North, Tshawn Lewis – St Phillip North, and Avoy Knight – St John’s Rural North.
Without a doubt, many onlookers will expect a tough challenge for candidates like James, up against the seemingly indomitable Prime Minister Gaston Browne, and Imhoff, who faces the UPP’s young dynamo Tevaughn Harriette and a possible independent candidate in long-serving Member of Parliament Asot Michael.
But even they are not likely to be fearful, such is the confidence oozing through the party.
Founded in 2017, the DNA has done well to establish itself as a viable ‘third party’ option and – amid perceived failures on the part of the ruling administration – considers the upcoming general election a genuine opportunity to solidify that status.
“Given where we are in Antigua and Barbuda at this time, I think it is important that the public be given and be offered alternatives, certainly where the political options are concerned.
“Based on our walking through communities, based on our campaign which has now begun in earnest, people have said to me and all the other candidates they’re tired. They’re tired of the red [and] the blue, and we just simply say ‘try something new’.
“We have men and women who possess maturity, discipline [and] experience. We all have a bold vision, we’re patriots, we have integrity, and we believe that we are the best political option for Antigua and Barbuda right now,” Massiah declared yesterday.
The party leader also emphasised the integrity of the candidates, referring to the slate as “an unblemished set of people”, perhaps in a dig at the various controversies attached to prominent members of both the ABLP and UPP.
“We fully subscribe to the good governance principles of integrity, transparency and accountability in government,” she added.
The country’s next general election is constitutionally due in 2023, but many are of the opinion that the date will be much earlier. The Prime Minister himself has even teased the possibility.
While the jury remains out where that is concerned, it is very clear that the DNA does not consider itself a sideshow, and very much intends to become the main attraction.