Politics

Candidates focus on local issues

  • Progressive Labour Party MP Lovitta Foggo, the incumbent in St David's
  • Andrea Moniz-DeSouza of the One Bermuda Alliance, who is challenging for the St David's seat

Seniors, schools, opportunities and neighbourhood upkeep are among the issues facing the St David’s community, according to the incumbent MP and the woman looking to unseat her.

Since 2007, Constituency 3 has been represented by the Progressive Labour Party’s Lovitta Foggo after she defeated Suzann Roberts-Holshouser by 90 votes.

In 2012, she secured a second term defeating challenger Gaylenne Cannonier 511-384.

An educator, Ms Foggo taught at institutions including St George’s Secondary, Whitney Institute, and CedarBridge Academy. She was a biology teacher at The Berkeley Institute when she was first elected as a Member of Parliament.

This year, she will be challenged by One Bermuda Alliance candidate Andrea Moniz-DeSouza.

Ms Moniz-DeSouza was among the final four candidates unveiled by the party at a press conference on June 30.

The daughter of blue collar immigrant parents, Ms Moniz-DeSouza received much of her education in Bermuda from the public school system. She studied law abroad before returning to the island to practice as a member of the Bermuda Bar.

Currently, she is the Honorary Consul of Portugal, as well as an executive committee member with the AG Show.

According to Ms Foggo, the issues central to her constituents largely depend on their age.

For younger families, Ms Foggo said education is the number one issue. She said she has worked very closely with the schools in the area, and promised along with her party “to ensure that we provide our children with the 21st-century education that they are most deserving of.”

Families with older members, she said, are most concerned with healthcare.

Ms Foggo said that constituents are worried about the inability of pensions to cover necessities, including medical matters.

“They find that they are having to make a choice between ‘Do I buy these pills?’, ‘Do I get these types of groceries?’,” she said.

“‘What is it I can afford to let leave by the wayside, for now, so that I can make sure that I manage?’”

Ms Foggo said there had been an “outcry” over management of the topography and road works in Constituency 3.

“People definitely feel that has been very much neglected,” she said.

Ms Moniz-DeSouza echoed the concerns heard by Ms Foggo from constituents over community upkeep.

The main concern of constituents, she said, related to maintenance of public areas — including tree trimming, lighting, and access to public transit — which they feel have been disregarded.

“People generally feel as if they are ignored by their current representative,” Ms Moniz-DeSouza said.

If elected, she said her prioritises over the next five years would include providing assistance to seniors and vulnerable members of the community, addressing “much needed” facilities improvements for residents at Gulfstream, and investigating what can be done to increase adult education, job training and employment opportunities for area residents.

“This is particularly important as it will help residents of Gulfstream transition into non-emergency housing,” she said.

Ms Moniz-DeSouza said that the biggest challenge she would face in making her priorities realities would be getting all relevant government resources to “co-operate and co-ordinate”.

Residents, she said, had been critical of the job done by their elected PLP representative.

“According to the constituents I have spoken to, Ms Foggo has underrepresented her constituency and has not actively addressed their concerns,” she said.

“Many residents feel as if the only time they see her is just before an election.”

Ms Foggo said she prided herself on being an MP who is responsive to the voices and cries of her residents.

“I have tried at every step of the way to definitely act on those issues they felt needed to be tended to,” she said.

Pointing to concerns over the possible closure of St David’s Primary last year, Ms Foggo said she was there with the constituents to ensure that Government heard the position of community.

“Many of my constituents have said — even on both sides of the fence — that they are very grateful to the fact that I am a very visible MP, that I come out to hear their concerns, and that I have, as best I can, responded to the requests that have been given to me.”

According to Ms Moniz-DeSouza, a lifetime of community service has provided her with the tools to represent the people of St David’s “actively and faithfully”.

“I don’t shy away from difficult tasks and pride myself on the ability to get things done,” she said.

“I’m not comfortable being passively involved in something — if I take on a task, I see it through until the job is done.

“After meeting with the residents of St David’s and hearing their concerns, I’m more determined than ever to get to work.”

Ms Foggo pointed to her record working with the community as her best qualification for re-election.

“I have been there every step of the way with them, for them,” she said.

“I have never seen myself as a separate entity — I have seen myself as a fellow community member and I understand that the job gets done best when we’re working together as a team.”

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