OSWALD BROWN WRITES
By OSWALD T. BROWN
The results of the local government elections for the City of Freeport Council have sent an unequivocal message to Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing, Member of Parliament for Marco City, that his chances of being reelected are very slim.
Laing and his supporters campaigned heavily in the constituency for candidates that are known to be supporters of the governing Free National Movement (FNM), but both Marco City seats on the council were won by strong supporters of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Incumbent Councilmember Kevin Ferguson, chairman of the PLP Marco City branch, was not only the top vote-getter, but his running mate, Solomon “Mr. Speaker” Morley, a vocal supporter of the PLP, finished second to deny incumbent Deputy Chief Councilor Joanna Russell Newton, a known FNM supporter, re-election to the council.
And on Monday Ferguson was elected Chief Councilor by his colleagues to lead the Council for the next three years. He also is the campaign manager for Gregory Moss, the well known lawyer who is the PLP’S candidate for Marco City in the next general election.
Although the Marco City race was the most hotly contested, if any further proof was necessary that the political wind of change in Grand Bahama is blowing strongly in favour of the PLP, Malvina Albury, a well known PLP supporter, garnered the most votes in the Pineridge constituency, finishing well ahead of incumbent FNM supporter William Martinborough, who was elected to the second seat in that constituency.
Even in the High Rock race for the two Freeport City Council seats in that area, which is considered to be an FNM stronghold, there were indications that the FNM has lost some ground politically. Although both seats were won by supporters of the FNM, incumbent Fritz Thompson, one of the two candidates openly supported by the FNM machine, was not re-elected. The leading vote-getter was Chervita Campbell, who clearly owes her success to the strong support she received from outgoing Councilmember April Crowther-Gow. The other candidate backed by the FNM machine, Don Martin, finished second.
A long-time supporter of the FNM, Crowther-Gow has for a long time had her sights set on one day representing High Rock in the House of Assembly. She represented the constituency on the Freeport City Council for three terms for a total of nine years, from 2005 to 2011. For the first six years she was Deputy Chief Councilor and she has also served as president of the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities, the first Bahamian to hold that position. Surely, one would think that with such sterling credentials, as a strong FNM supporter, she would be an ideal candidate for that party in the High Rock constituency, but for some strange reason she does not have the support of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
If current High Rock MP Kenneth Russell decides to retire, there is widespread speculation that Ingraham would like to nominate former FNM Senator Kay Smith, the current Bahamas Consul General in Atlanta, for either that seat or the Lucaya seat, if it is true that Lucaya MP Neko Grant will not seek re-election, but reports are that FNMs have flatly told Ingraham that they will not support Smith for either constituency.
Ingraham’s next choice for High Rock reportedly was playwright Michael Pintard, but FNMs also rejected him, pointing out that he is a Johnny Come Lately who has no real “roots” in Grand Bahama.
There was a time when Ingraham could have unilaterally decided who would run where and no one would have had the guts to question his choices, but he reportedly has lost considerable clout in Grand Bahama because of his government’s neglect of the island over the past four years.
What was revealed recently by The Nassau Guardian in one of its reports on information contained in U.S. classified diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks claiming that Ingraham placed Grand Bahama’s economy in jeopardy by not renewing the work permit of Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) Chairman Hannes Babak was really not news to many residents of Grand Bahama. That matter had been openly discussed in Grand Bahama ever since Ingraham unilaterally made the decision in December of 2009 for selfish and vindictive reasons, with one rumour suggesting that Babak was victimized because of a personnel decision he made that Ingraham did not like.
It is therefore easy to understand why the political tide in Grand Bahama has turned in favour of the PLP when you add to this the fact that the five FNMs who represent constituencies in Grand Bahama – Zhivargo Laing (Marco City), Neko Grant (Lucaya), Kenneth Russell (High Rock), Kwazi Thompson (Pineridge), and Vernae Grant (Eight Mile Rock) – all have remained as silent as deaf mutes as Ingraham has failed to do anything to help revive Grand Bahama’s economy or made decisions that were deleterious to its revival.
Meanwhile, the PLP has made it easy for voters in Grand Bahama to make the right decisions in the next general election by so far nominating an excellent slate of candidates to team up with incumbent PLP representative for West End and Bimini Obie Wilchcombe to make it possible for the PLP to win a minimum of five seats in Grand Bahama. A PLP candidate has not yet been officially announced for High Rock, but it is now almost a certainty Gregory Moss will unquestionably defeat Zhivargo Laing in Marco City; Dr. Michael Darville will have a harder fight against Kwazi Thompson in Pineridge, but he will win by a comfortable margin; Julian Russell will easily defeat Vernae Grant in Eight Mile Rock; and Tanisha Tynes, the PLP’s standard bearer in Lucaya, will beat whomever the FNM selects to replace Neko Grant, if he indeed decides to retire.