At last, at last, at long last. It’s been approximately three months since the Honourable Kelvin ‘Shugy’ Simon resigned from his seat in Parliament, triggering a by-election in the constituency of St Mary’s South. Today is that by-election day. Decision day, and the good people of St Mary’s South can hardly wait. We certainly wish them all the very best – a bright and sunshiny day, with all the election machinery running smoothly, and an election that is “free and fair, and free from fear.”
Of course, if there are many of the good folks in the constituency breathing sighs of relief, we understand. After all, they have seen more than their fair share of politicking and dirty campaigning. They have seen mudslinging and name-calling; they have seen the delivery of cold, hard cash; inducements and gift-giving. Refrigerators, bicycles, fans and all sorts of other items have been brazenly handed out by some folks, seeking to change the minds of the people. Thankfully, for the most part, the people of St Mary’s South have rejected the filthy lucre. Gifts and toys are of no effect on them. They will not be dissuaded from their intention to vote for the person whom they believe will best represent them.
Not surprisingly, we have heard from more than a few of the St Mary’s South folks that they are also tired and fed-up with the many nasty, boorish and annoying visits to the constituency by some of the out-of-town campaigners, these past several weeks. They found these visits to be nothing more than an aggravation of the spirit. In their tiresome campaign spiel, the out-of-towners brought nothing that was uplifting, edifying, inspiring. It was simply a basket of nasty, vitriolic, self-serving nonsense. The out-of-towners blew their own trumpets, and then blew it some more, for anyone who cared to listen. Mercifully, not many people bothered to listen, except for the comic relief that it provided.
As was to be expected, all the stops were pulled out by the supporters of one candidate to fool and seduce the good people of St Mary’s South. Roads that had long been neglected, were suddenly repaved. Bridges were fixed. A school was retrofitted with air conditioning units, never mind that the school was not electrically compatible with the units. Playfields were rehabilitated and upgraded. Sports teams were suddenly handsomely gifted. Work began on the languishing Cades Bay Bridge, and all of a sudden, they remembered that they had a clinic and a police station to furnish and open to the public. As if the people from ‘Roun South’ are fools. As if this last-minute flurry of activity – this vulgar and transparent attempt to lure them will reap dividends. Alas! We believe that they will be in for a rude awakening. The people of St Mary’s South are made of stern stuff – they are a proud, strong, independent, self-made people – true patriots, who are not seeking only their own, but a betterment for all the people of the community. They cannot be fooled. Not by cheap gimmickry.
Meanwhile, whereas some of the St Mary’s South folks flocked to one candidate, whom they were convinced stood head and shoulders above the field, what with his simple charisma and charm, his sincerity, his willingness to do the hard work, and his genuine love for St Mary’s South and his people, others held their noses and merely tolerated the other contender. The third candidate . . . well . . . We’re not sure that he will get back his deposit.
So, at 6 pm today, the doors to the various polling stations in St Mary’s South will close. And the counting will begin. We trust that it will be a quick (a little more that 2,700 registered electors) and accurate count. We trust that all the registered electors will go out to vote – let your voice be heard, have your say. Remember, “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” [Plato] Folks, as Mahatma Gandhi once declared, “We must be the change that we wish to see in the world.”
Here’s to a peaceful and successful by-election day. May the better man win, and may God continue to bless Antigua and Barbuda.
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