Sean Bird: A person’s track record is important when entering politics

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People seeking public office should have a track record of community service, and their achievements in life should be a prerequisite for the job.
Sean Bird, a former Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) political hopeful and a member of the Bird family made the assertion yesterday during an interview on the Big Issues Programme.
He was speaking about a decision by Maria Bird-Browne to contest the nomination to become the ABLP’s candidate for the St John’s Rural East constituency.
“Your life and your achievements in life should be your résumé for service. To me service means service to the community,” Bird said when he was asked his opinion on the candidacy of his relative.
He stated further, ”In my humble opinion, if she has that ambition if I were her husband, I would say maybe you need to get a little more experience within the party and the constituency.”
Bird, who also serves as the general manager for government-aligned ZDK radio, said he could not state for a fact whether Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s wife is well known in the constituency which is now being led by her uncle, Sir Lester Bird.
He also alleged that leaders of political parties in Antigua and Barbuda tend to look at what’s in their party’s best interest rather than the achievements of the individuals who are seeking to enter the political arena.
Bird-Browne formally wrote to the ABLP executive, in a letter dated November 2, 2017, outlining her interest in representing the people of the constituency of St. John’s Rural East.
The party’s executive heard the request on Friday and according to her husband, the development came as a surprise to him.
In the missive addressed to the chairperson of the constituency branch, the PM’s wife said that since graduating from the Christ the King High School and the University of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she has lived a life of service through her charity, Share Foundation.
She said the charity has assisted hundreds of women, elderly and young people to establish small businesses and pursue studies.
“Even now that I am six months away from completing my Bachelor of Laws degree, I continue to serve over 15,000 of my fellow students as President of the Students Guild of Arden University,” Bird-Browne stated in the letter.
While pointing to “rich history of service” by her grandfather, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Snr, Antigua’s first premier and the legacy of Sir Lester Bird, two-term Prime Minister, Bird-Browne said she intends to make their contribution and accomplishments a pivot to her serving the constituency.
The aspiring politician also said she does not intend to use her position as the spouse of Prime Minister Browne to leverage the support of the people in the constituency.
In direct reaction to the letter, PM Browne claimed that he wasn’t aware that his wife had written to the branch until Friday night – the night the Executive met.
“I was telling people that she was considering, next thing I was there listening and a beautiful letter came from her confirming that she is interested in contesting. So, there is no if or but about it now. Now she is fair game,” the prime minister said during an interview on his own radio station, Point FM.
The nation’s leader also said he fears that his wife’s interest in politics may place a strain on their family life.
Meantime, Dean Jonas, ABLP Member of Parliament for the St. George constituency, who was also a guest on Sunday’s programme, said there is nothing in the constitution preventing the PM’s spouse from contesting a seat in the area.
He said, as to whether or not the branch and the people of the community think that she [Bird-Browne] is the type of person they want is another matter.
“Other passionate young ladies are interested. And once the process is fair to all, I believe the best person will succeed in the process,” Jonas said.
Bird-Browne will come up against two other females Alincia Grant, senate president and Shenella Govia, government Senator responsible for youth affairs, who have also expressed an interest in contesting.
Jonas said outside of writing to the branch, an aspiring representative has to go through a process.
He said whenever a situation like this arises, the party normally tries to resolve it through negotiation with the respective candidates or a poll when the first step fails.
He said the last step would include a primary where members of the constituency branch and the community will vote to select the candidate.
Jonas also said the discussion about the potential candidate for the St John’s Rural East seat is “premature” in that Sir Lester Bird has not indicated that he is stepping down despite the declaration by the PM that he is officially off the party’s slate.

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