Hope leader became emotional as she made a statement.
PHILIPSBURG:--- Of the nine political parties that submitted their list to the voting bureau on Monday, only three of them handed in a list with a full slate of 23 candidates. They are the United Peoples Party (UPP), United St. Maarten’s People Party (USP), and the National Alliance (NA).
St. Maarten’s oldest political party the Democratic Party (DP) submitted a list with 18 candidates, the People’s Progressive Party submitted a list with 14 candidates, and St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) submitted a list with nine candidates, The One St. Maarten People’s Party (OSPP) submitted a list with 7 candidates. St. Maarten Development Movement (SDM) submitted their list with 6 candidates while Helping our People Excel (HOPE) Political Party submitted a list with 3 candidates. A total of 126 candidates postulated themselves on the nine slates hoping to capture one of the 15 seats in parliament.
On Tuesday, five of the nine political parties that submitted their lists on Monday have to go to Census Office and get 146 persons to endorse their parties before they are eligible to contest the September 26th parliamentary elections. They are the PPA, OSPP, SMCP, SDM, and HOPE. All parties will be notified on Monday next week if the lists they submitted on Monday, August 8th are in full compliance the chairman of the voting bureau Jason Rogers told each of the political parties that submitted their list on Monday.
The UPP, USP, NA and DP were exempted from the endorsement process because they each obtained seats in the parliamentary elections held in 2014.
The leader of the HOPE Mercedes Whyatt became very emotional as she read her party’s mission statement when she submitted her list. Whyatt began crying and at times paused as her emotions rise. At some point Whyatt pulled herself together and continued reading. The mission statement outlined 5 core values of the party which are Professionalism, Positivity, Law Abiding, Dialogue, and Good Governance, Whyatt also gave an insight of the 11 areas of concern that has priority for HOPE. Those are a stable and sound budget, Health Care, Food Safety, and Security, Poverty Alleviation and Housing, Crime Prevention and Public Safety, Education and Youth, Human Rights, Sustainable and renewable energy, Social Security, and Elderly Pension, Environmental Sustainability, Traffic and Transportation and Cultural Diversity.
While HOPE is a new and young party with the smallest amount of candidates on their list, the mission statement read out on Monday by the party leader is quite similar to the National Development Plan that the National Alliance posted online in 2014.
The UPP was the first that submitted their list with a few supporters. The leader of the party Theodore Heyliger stood alongside one of the party’s members who submitted the list, quite unusual for the UPP they had no big show or parade when they submitted their list but chose to hold a parade during the afternoon hours when the two bigger parties were heading towards the Government Administration Building.
The SMCP, SDM, and HOPE also had few supporters when they went to the Government Administration Building.
The momentum changed with the Democratic Party (DP) who showed up with a larger crowd, prior to entering the Government Building. The DP and its supporters stood in front of the statue of the late Dr. Claude Wathey one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Party before they entered the government building to submit their list. As the DP make their way up the stairs they were cheerful and applauded their leader when the DP list was handed in. In an interview with reporters, leader of the Democratic Party Sarah Wescot Williams said that several of the politicians that are boasting today of their accomplishments forgot to say that almost everything that has been accomplished started with the Democratic Party. Wescot Williams also reminded the people that ever since she took up the mantle to serve her country she does not stay at home but instead puts in a full day’s work each day. She said that one of the things that are high on the agenda of the DP is electoral reform to curb ‘ship jumping’ and to bring about stability for the country.
The United St. Maarten’s People Party (USP) led by Frans Richardson had the largest crowd when they went to submit their list. The USP had stilt walkers and a band, while each of their candidates, rode in their own wrangler to the Government Administration Building. The large crowd that supported the USP did not sit still they rejoiced each time they had a moment to do so, chanting USP the winning list. The leader of the USP Frans Richardson told reporters that a lot of people underestimated the USP because his party is a young party. Richardson also called on the people of St. Maarten to be honest with themselves, especially on Tuesday. He said there are a number of new parties that formed this year to contest the parlimentary elections. He said change starts with the people and those persons that will go the census office on Tuesday should not sign any of the lists if they do not intend to support that political party comes to Election Day.” Do not sign a list just for signing sake, if you sign a list do it for the right reasons, meaning you will cast your vote for that party.
As for the National Alliance, they also showed up with a sizeable crowd with drum bands and dancers. Those that came along with the National Alliance marched from the party headquarters in Sucker Garden to the government administration building to submit the NA list. Prime Minister William Marlin and leader of the National Alliance whose wife Gabriella walked side by side with him along with his son and daughter and the deputy leader Silveria Jacobs told reporters that the National Alliance intend to run a clean campaign like they are accustomed to doing, he said that does not mean that they will allow anyone to walk over them. Marlin said that the National Alliance and its team is known for working hard each time they were given the opportunity to govern. Marlin credited the current Minister of Finance who is also a candidate contesting the September 26th parliamentary elections for his hard work. Marlin said that Minister Gibson did what many others could not do, which was to balance the 2016 budget and intends to submit a balanced budget for 2017.
Marlin further stated that the NA-led coalition government worked hard in a short period and managed to start projects such as completing the unfinished government building that sat on Pond Island for seven year, he said the camera project that was talked about for over 20 years was realized by his coalition government all because the Minister of Finance did what was necessary to make monies available for capital investments for the country. The upgrading of Front and Back Street, the demolition and reconstruction of Prins Willem Alexander School kicked off under the guidance of the deputy leader Silveria Jacobs. Marlin also credited Minister Emile Lee for his hard work to ensure that proper procedures were followed in order to construct a hospital for St. Maarten. He said the former government signed off on the construction of a hospital for $100M while no bidding process took place, while Minister Lee followed the letter of the law and got the same hospital for some $60M.
When asked if he intends to work just as hard like he did during the past 9 months if re-elected with a majority. Marlin said when he took office every day he worked until midnight because he knew he had a lot to get done in short time span, one being an electoral reform which took up much of their time. He said that if re-elected with a full mandate, he would have to cut down his working hours and adjust somewhat because his government would have more time to get things done for St. Maarten and its people.
As Marlin spoke to reporters and explained all that was accomplished in 9 months his supporters cheered him along, they continue to ask the voters to give them 10 seats in parliament and full mandate of four years. At the end of Marlin's interview with reporters he called on all his candidates and supporters to take off their hats and pay tribute to fallen bike patrol Gamali Benjamin who was killed by armed robbers exactly one year ago on August 8th.