Monday, March 22, 2010

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) ratifies four candidates for the next general election

By Krystel Rolle ~ Guardian Staff Reporter ~

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) yesterday officially announced its candidates for the Marathon, Golden Isles, Garden Hills and Sea Breeze constituencies -- in a move which its leader Perry Christie said would push the party forward as it readies itself for the next general election.

In a statement, the PLP said the National General Council (NGC), which is the policy arm of the organization, accepted the recommendations of the Candidates Committee and ratified Senators Jerome Fitzgerald, Michael Halkitis and Hope Strachan, along with political newcomer Dr. Kendal Major as candidates in the upcoming general election. Their nominations were accepted at the PLP headquarters on March 18.

As The Nassau Guardian reported on Thursday, Fitzgerald was nominated for Marathon; Halkitis for Golden Isles; Strachan for Sea Breeze; and Major, who is a dental specialist, was selected for Garden Hills.

The Marathon constituency is currently held by Minister of the Environment Earl Deveaux, the Sea Breeze constituency is represented by Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Carl Bethel, Garden Hills is represented by Ministry of Housing Parliamentary Secretary Brensil Rolle and Golden Isles is being represented by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard.

In 2007, the PLP didn't announce its slate of candidates until about six weeks before the May 2 general election. However, this time around the party is getting a jump start.

Christie said the nomination and selection process would be ongoing. He added it's important to ratify and introduce candidates to the various constituents as early as possible because of the changing needs of Bahamians and what they look for in their respective representatives.

"The [Elizabeth] by-election has reminded us and taught us a wonderful lesson: That you have to be prepared, because the constituencies are not just large but they have become more complex because of the downturn in the economy," Christie said.

"There is a significant movement of people in rental homes who are faced with challenges. So I think there is a significant move about of people in the constituencies throughout New Providence and I imagine this must be the same in places like Freeport and these urban areas. So we have to give our candidates as great of an opportunity as we possibly can to get to understand the constituency and get to know the people and allow the people to understand and meet them."

Christie said as time goes on the PLP would name its candidates on a very steady basis.

Asked when the full slate of candidates is expected to be announced, Christie said he could not be sure.

"We want to give the best opportunity to persons who may have not yet applied - who now know that the process has begun, and may be interested in entering public life for the Progressive Liberal Party," he said.

The PLP leader said the party's Candidates Committee meets every week to interview potential candidates.

"Obviously that process will continue and we involve the branches in the constituency and the community," he said, adding that the committee would then get everyone's contribution to the decision as to who the best candidate would be.

"So that's what we're doing now. So you'll find, on sort of a regular basis, we'll be pausing to name candidates."

Christie said in cases where many people are vying for the nomination to represent one constituency, they are required to consult within the constituency. Following their consultations, Christie said the Candidate's Committee then makes an assessment as to who the best representative is for that area.

The PLP has not fielded a full slate of candidates for the past several elections, opting for strategic reasons not to contest the Bamboo Town, Long Island and the former St. Margaret's constituencies.

March 22, 2010