Put on your political jerseys, lace up your campaign shoes, take out your coloured pom-poms, as within a matter of weeks, the constituency of North Abaco will be in the midst of a by-election frenzy.
The country is excited; Abaco is excited; all due to the lingering and possible rekindling of the recent general election fever that consumed the most religious amongst us, to even the politically oblivious.
North Abaconians Could Reap Huge Rewards
North Abaco constituents are quite aware of the possible opportunities for a boosted economy that awaits their community. They remember quite well the Elizabeth by-election. The monies reported to have been spent, the increased temporary employment, the multiple fully staffed constituency offices and of course, the highly anticipated rallies, parties and get-togethers.
In fact, the entire country has heard rumors of mortgages and school fees being paid, along with the purchasing of washers, dryers and the like during the Elizabeth by-election; now perhaps, it’s the residents of the North Abaco constituency’s turn. Well, we all will have to wait and see if they turn out to be as fortunate at the end of this by-election.
Be that as it may, this election will squarely be between the PLP’s candidate Renardo Curry and the FNM’s standard bearer Greg Gomez; but rumor has it, that the BCP’s candidate Ali McIntosh is again determined to donate her $400 to the Bahamas Treasury in order to deepen democracy.
The Bahamian public continues to be grateful to McIntosh’s continued contribution to the public purse, especially when the country’s finances appear to be challenged of late. Alas, interestingly, there will be no candidate from the upstart DNA, who has apparently opted out of this race, to watch the big dance from the sidelines instead putting their foot forward to represent the swing voter.
The By-Election Is a Referendum on Leadership
In any event, this by-election promises to be a dynamic one. Political pundits have suggested that this will be yet another referendum of sorts regarding leadership.
It is said that this election will be an indicator of whether the support of Perry Christie and the PLP has wavered during the past few months; or more so, it will hint to the readiness of the Opposition Leader Hubert Minnis: his capability to galvanize his supporters, his ability to convince the Bahamian public at large that he is in fact, the real deal, and finally that the FNM does not need a Hubert Ingraham to win an election.
In short both parties need this win, to electrify their political base and to secure long term voter confidence.
It will be interesting to see if Greg Gomez, who until recently did not meet the constitutional requirements to run for public office in the Bahamas will win the constituents trust over Renardo Curry who during the country’s recent general election had won five of the twelve polling stations against a political power house and the country’s former prime minister, Hubert Ingraham. Both men are sons of Abaco’s soil, having strong family ties in the community. The two candidates are vying to replace Hubert Ingraham who has been the Member of Parliament for North Abaco for the last 35 years.
Huge Shoes to Fill
In truth the successor of Mr. Ingraham will have huge shoes to fill; subsequently their efforts will require more than just talking about creating computer labs, starting after school programs, maintaining community parks or establishing community crime watch and the like, as that is what they have a thriving local government for.
The candidate must be a trailblazer; continuing Mr. Ingraham’s efforts of raising the standards of the educational and healthcare systems, road improvement and innovative ideas of improving Abaco’s general economy. But obtaining such a candidate will depend upon North Abaco residents holding each candidate’s feet to the fire instead of paying attention to party rhetoric.
And yes, we do expect a lot of party rhetoric this by-election. All kinds of talks of victimization; talks about cookie jars being robbed, talks about who isn’t eligible to run, vote, or speak on the issues. We expect one or two scandals to come out of the closet, however few issues relating to the candidates, the economy or issues of the residents of North Abaco constituency. And yes we expect to hear a lot about Hubert Ingraham: Ingraham, Ingraham, Ingraham.
The retired politician’s name will perpetually be upon the lips of some. I expect he will be blamed for every darn thing that is wrong within this country and North Abaco in particular. During this election frenzy, Ingraham will be held responsible for perhaps, even causing the Bahamas to get one, lone medal in the recent Olympic Games. Be that as it may, it should be interesting to see what role the man who is the catalyst for all of this excitement will play within this campaign.
What can we expect?
During the Elizabeth by-election, both Christie and Ingraham’s faces were plastered throughout the constituency, more pronounced than the actual candidates. However, this election campaign of “fame recognition” will surely be different, especially since a less illustrious Hubert is at the helm.
The question remains, whose picture to put up, it can’t be simply just the candidates on their own merit, as thus far neither seem to have done much? If the Elizabeth by-election is any indicator of what to expect in the North Abaco race, one should expect a low voter turnout.
In truth, to many, gaining or losing this seat in the grand scheme of things, does not matter. More so, with the absence of a serious third force in this by-election, there is no need to challenge the candidates to define what is it that makes them think they are worthy to represent
North Abaco. At least Elizabeth had a candidate’s debate, which allowed perhaps disillusioned swing voters some incline as to who to cast their vote for. However, within this by-election, it seems as if North Abaco may just have to flip a coin in order to get the better candidate.
By Cecil Newry