BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 28th February 2020) – Come next week, voters of District 5 (St.Thomas’) in Nevis are expected to go to the polls in a by-election to choose either newcomer Cleone Stapleton- Simmonds of the opposition Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) running on a parish stronghold ticket or now four-times runner Keith ‘Dis an Dat’ Scarborough of the incumbent Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) as their parliamentary representative.
On Tuesday 25th February 2020, both candidates were officially nominated at the Cotton Ground Community Center ahead of the Thursday 5th March 2020 poll day in the local Nevis Island Assembly.
Premier Mark Brantley (leader of CCM), at his monthly press conference held yesterday (Thursday), pointed out that the by-election “has become necessary because of course Mr. Joseph Walcott Parry who was the elected representative for Nevis 5 has decided to step aside and therefore with three years left to go, the good people of St. Thomas parish will have a decision to make on the 5th of March in terms of who they elect to be their representative.”
Parry’s retirement letter effective 31st December 2019 gave way for the by-election timeframe in accordance with provisions of the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.
In an exclusive interview with Stapleton- Simmonds when contacted at the NRP’s Headquarters, she described her nomination day as a “wonderful and historic moment”.
When asked about her confidence level, she replied “Well, I would say that my confidence level is high but I’m very cautious because of course you can’t take anything for granted.”
Explaining further why she is caution, she pointed out that the St. Thomas seat “has predominantly been an NRP seat so there is a high level of confidence but I have to treat it like any other fight.”
Quizzed about what makes her the better candidate of choice for voters, the new NRP runner said: “I represent youth, energy and perhaps change. I have the ability to secure a better future for Nevis towards a visionary scope and nation building.”
Commenting on how she feels about filling the seat previously held by former Premier Parry, she told: “I am honoured that Mr. Parry has recommended me. I have known him for many years; he is like a father figure to me. It is a sense of honour being able to carry on the baton …I’m aware that his boots are some big ones to fill but I will do my best. I wish to carry on his legacy of serving with integrity and representing for all Nevisians.”
Attempts to get in touch with Scarborough before press time were unsuccessful.
A press release issued by the NIA (Nevis Island Administration) on nomination day (25th February), however, quotes him (Scarborough) as saying: “My thoughts are very positive and I believe with my nomination, it gives the good people of St. Thomas’ an opportunity to vote for someone who will go into government. Like I have said elsewhere, both of the candidates would want to see St. Thomas’ do well, grow from strength to strength, improving its development but the difference is that one would go into Opposition if successful and the other one go into government if successful. So it’s a simple choice that the people of St. Thomas’ really have and I am been feeling good. I have been doing the legwork through the community and the response has been positive thus far, and I’m hoping that come March 5th that we will very well see St. Thomas’ being represented in the Nevis Island Administration.”
Additionally, in expressing victory confidence in favour of his party, Premier Brantley at this week’s press conference remarked: “Whatever happens on the 5th of March, he (Scarborough) will remain in government for at least the next three years and so we continue to invite the good people of St. Thomas parish to vote wisely and make a wise decision.”
According to him: “We have said that they have a choice. In a democracy, we always have a choice and their choice is to send their representative to government. I believe we have made the choice and will continue to make the choice down to election that it is better to send their representative to government and cabinet where a chair is already waiting for him.”
Opposition candidate Stapleton-Simmonds, however, is of the view that a parliamentary representative does not need to be in cabinet to get things done in St. Thomas’.
She has publicly gave the view that whilst she accepts that her party is not in government, the people will still have a voice through her as their elected representative noting that she is prepared to fight for their development.