Three candidates officially nominated for SMS by-election

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By Robert A Emmanuel

[email protected]

As the early morning sun rose on Monday, October 9, various political parties and their supporters made their way to the St Mary’s South constituency to officially nominate their respective candidates who are bidding to become the new constituency representative.

For the United Progressive Party (UPP) and its by-election candidate, Kelvin Simon, yesterday felt like a bitter taste of déjà vu as it was his nomination last year — while he was still employed as a guidance counsellor in the Ministry of Education — that led to an election petition being brought against him.

“No regrets” he told Observer media when we spoke to him about his feelings about the day.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to be here again definitely, but it is a good feeling: I am confident, I have great support and I just want the process to start so that St Mary’s South and the development of it can be back on the front burner,” Simon stated.

Casworth Aaron, who brought the petition on behalf of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP), sought to not only disqualify Simon, but make the election court determine that Samantha Marshall, the former ABLP Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency, was its rightful representative as she got the second most votes in the constituency.

Simon, who resigned from his role as MP during the early stages of the legal case, sought to bypass the court being forced to make a decision on the matter, and put the decision into the hands of the people.

“In life, every experience is a lesson, and I am looking for the positives; this whole experience would have taught me a lot and has helped me to grow, both as a politician and a leader, to understand people more and it has caused me to be receiving even more support,” Simon expressed.

Simon claimed that, during his canvassing efforts people were open to giving him a full five-year term in office to make his mark and represent them as an MP.

He said that if he is ultimately successful in defending the St Mary’s South seat as its most recent incumbent, it would be back to catching up on the work and time lost since the election petition was filed against him.

The second person to be nominated yesterday was Andrew Antonio of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).

“It is the second time that I have been nominated in less than a year, so it is a bit normal now, with the understanding that it is something to be grateful for, that ten persons are putting their faith in you, and they believe in your plans and policies moving forward,” Antonio said.

He said that his plans were to “open up the eyes of the constituents” to choose a candidate that has the constituents’ back and to look beyond political party colours.

“At the end of the day, even though these powerhouse parties can provide you with X amount of money, X amount of things, it doesn’t help you in the long term … we don’t just need handouts but we need opportunities to build our own wealth and financial freedom,” Antonio explained.

He added that politicians on all sides should aim to assist others in the constituency even after the by-election date.

“In regard to the age-old question of politics and campaigning, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party, the United Progressive Party and any other party have found the same route where election season turns into a gimmick, and this is where you see action done.

“This is not a jab at any specific party because at the end of the day, every single party has their good and all of them has their bad, we are all human being … but what I would like to see is that every person vying for politics … to ask themselves ‘am I truly deserving this opportunity, and if given this opportunity, can I really stand on my morals,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ABLP camp has been ramping up its efforts in the constituency, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne personally taking to the streets to shore up support for his candidate, Dwayne George.

George, a former UPP supporter prior to the shock cross-over to the ABLP ranks, held a whistle stop from the Antigua State College to the SR Olivia David Primary School in Bolans, where he was officially nominated yesterday afternoon.

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