Marigot:--- The majority members of the Territorial Council representing the RRR political party along with independent member of the Territorial Council Jules Charville voted in favor of first Vice President Aline Hanson to become the first female President (Leader) on French St. Martin on Wednesday at an extra-ordinary Territorial Council meeting. President elect Aline Hanson has been in the political arena since 1977 under the leadership of Mayor Elie Fleming and continued her political career with Mayor Albert Fleming who was the leader of Solidarity St. Martinoise. Hanson then joined the RRR team when St. Martin became a Collectivity in 2007 and ran on the RRR slate on both elections since then.
Shortly after the votes were counted and Hanson was declared President elect, former President of the Collectivity and leader of the RRR Alain Richardson who was present for the voting (extra-ordinary meeting) stood up and placed the "Echarpe" around her neck (passing the mantle over to the new president). Richardson then congratulated the new president who will carry the torch for the RRR for their remaining term. President Hanson will be replaced by First Vice President Guillaume Arnell when she is not on the island. Jean Phillipe Richardson filled the vacant seat for the RRR since Sophie Jaboin did not take the seat appointed to her.
The RRR majority nominated Hanson as their candidate while the opposition chose to respect the wishes of the population who elected the RRR political party to office. Territorial Councilor and Deputy of St. Martin Daniel Gibbs in his presentation on Wednesday during the extra-ordinary meeting that was called to elect a new president since the State Council ousted Alain Richardson from his seat for breaching electoral rules said that the opposition would respect the people's wishes by allowing the RRR to nominate and elect the new president. Gibbs further explained that his team will not participate in the election of the new president but promised to work together with the majority in the interest of St. Martin. He told reporters shortly after that it was kind of emotional for him because the President elect Aline Hanson was his teacher, therefore contesting her candidacy would have been difficult for him.
In her election speech President Hanson thanked the Territorial Council for the confidence they placed in her when they elected her to the top position. She promised to continue the work the RRR team started under the leadership of Alain Richardson in 2012. President Hanson said that when St. Martin (RRR) was hit with the news that their president had to leave office they quickly got together and maintained the unity they have had from the beginning and that is the main reason all of the council members from the RRR team voted for her. President Hanson said that the ousting of their leader from his seat was probably meant to cause political destabilization but they managed to get together and re-establish their orientation which they will continue with. She said there is crisis in Paris (over there) and this is time for St. Martin to work in partnership in the interest of St. Martin and its people. President Hanson then called on the members of the Territorial Council to work with her because she will be depending on them for their cooperation. She also made clear to her former student and now Deputy of St. Martin Daniel Gibbs that her doors will remain open to him when it comes to defending the interests of the people.
President Hanson called on Gibbs and Senator Louis Constant Fleming to work on the State level so that St. Martin can implement the road taxes in order to build better roads. She also called on the citizens and the people of St. Martin to make their contributions via the taxes that are implemented in order for St. Martin to achieve its goals. President Hanson said that the Collectivity has taken up its responsibilities and are doing what needs to be done, however the State needs to take up their responsibility and do what they need to do for St. Martin. She said since the RRR took office they elevated the financial situation of the Collectivity and they are now counting on the State of France to do what they need to do for St. Martin.
The Territorial Council also elected a new executive council. The new members of the Executive Council are President Aline Hanson, first vice president Guillaume Arnell, second vice president Ramona Connor, third vice president Wendell Cocks, fourth vice president Rosette Gumbs-Lake, fifth vice president Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, while Christophe Henocq is a member of the executive council representing Team Daniel Gibbs (TDG).
The council then proceeded to vote on the delegation given to the President (Delegation donne au President), election of the members of the bidding committee (Election des members de la commission d'appel d'offres), election des members de la commission d'ouverture des pils, and the designation of elected officials on the commission of public establishments (designation des elus dans les commissions et establissements publics de la Collectivite).
Jeanne Rogers Vanterpool has been elected President of the Office du Tourisme. However, the members of the SEMSAMAR board will be assigned at a later date.
Deputy Daniel Gibbs and leader of TDG said he felt bad that St. Martin had to go through another election which was not on the program until another five years, but since they had to do it there was no choice. He said he preferred if this did not happen because it created another bad image for St. Martin because the same thing happened in 2008. "This is a sad situation because the image of St. Martin has been tarnished once again." He said he is happy with the announcement made by President Hanson who said she will implement new policies. Gibbs said his team as opposition will wait and see what will happen but vowed that they will remain active and vigilante as they were from the very beginning.