By Carlena Knight
With almost three years to go before the next general election is constitutionally due, the main opposition party, the United Progressive Party (UPP), has released its first four candidates.
Two newcomers and two second timers were revealed to the public on Monday morning by the leader of the UPP, Harold Lovell, on another local radio station.
Alex Browne, a man born and raised in Willikies, will be the candidate for the St Phillip’s North constituency, and he will face the incumbent, Sir Robin Yearwood, who has not lost his seat since 1976.
Browne, who is known for his work in the hospitality and sporting industries, is confident that “change is coming”.
“I want to take this constituency forward. As a matter of fact, I was very embarrassed lately, and it happens very often, when [it was] mentioned that you know where you can recognise if Columbus comes back, and that’s St Phillip’s North. And it’s an indictment on the person who has been there for over four decades. That will have to change, and so I am putting myself forward to make sure that we change that and change that in a major way,” said Browne.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne will see a new opponent in the St John’s City West constituency.
Alister Thomas – community activist, political commentator and cultural icon – was named to the UPP’s slate to replace the ‘Pitbull,’ Wilmoth Daniel, who lost to Browne in 2018 elections.
Browne has in fact never lost his seat since gaining it in 1999.
Thomas, a well-known member of the party, says he was encouraged by the people of the Point and Villa communities who he said had called on him to represent their interests.
“Few months ago, my ancestors woke me up at 2am, and said to me with a voice of a living person ‘come, we need your help to save Antigua from Gaston Browne who is dancing in our blood’. I remember it vividly because I wrote it down, to save Antigua and, by extension, Villa and Point,” Thomas said.
“Because the present Prime Minister is dancing in the blood of the ancestors and it is an honour to respond, not only to our ancestors, but to the people of Villa and Point.”
Then there is Senate Minority Leader Richard Lewis who will represent the party’s interest in the St John’s Rural West constituency for the second time.
Lewis previously lost to the ABLP’s Londell Benjamin by a mere 184 votes.
With such a close margin, Lewis says that he is “heartened” and ready to bring “relief” to the Grays Green community as well as the nation as a whole.
Businessman Michael Burton has also received the nod of approval from the party, and he will remain as the UPP candidate for the St John’s City South area, doing battle versus the incumbent, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, who has held his seat for 26 years.
Burton says that he is not phased by this Herculean task, but is equipped for the fight at hand.
“Last election I only had a few months myself, but now I can say I am a much more seasoned politician with the battle scars to show,” Burton said.
“I would like to say especially to the youth, your self-worth is of utmost importance. If you lose your network, you can always rebuild, but do not lose yourself, because you will become vulnerable. Don’t be fooled with hand-outs. Let us stand together to rescue this country with the UPP and with the leader of the party, Harold Lovell. I am a hundred percent confident that we will get the job done.”
Another four candidates will be announced next week.