The Progressive Labour Party’s candidate for Devonshire North West, Wayne Caines traces his roots in Happy Valley back to his grandfather’s arrival 90 years ago.
The lawyer and former CEO of Digicel Bermuda emphasised Constituency 14’s diversity, from working-class neighbourhoods to more affluent areas in the south.
“As the hills undulate, so do the needs, the wants, the aspirations,” he told The Royal Gazette.
“Born out of struggle”, the PLP attracted him as the champion of working men and women, and Mr Caines said he was “always for the underdog”.
Running as an MP is his chance to give back to the community, he said, calling it part of “a continuum of service”.
Canvassing the area has ranged from rekindling with old friends to confronting the stark “hurt” endured by families — but the reception in the main has been “exceedingly positive”.
“They’re excited to have someone who will take their views, their challenges, on to Parliament.”
Mr Caines said he was particularly concerned by stories of neglect from people who saw attention paid elsewhere, and were left asking: “Don’t we matter?”
“I’ve heard so many people say that they have been frozen out of everything,” he said. “They have no voice.”
Crime and gang violence vie with the jobs, the economy and access to opportunity as area concerns.
Many in the area have had no choice but to migrate to “economic exile” in Britain, while mothers have sent their sons away because they are “totally afraid” of the gang culture.
On parochial issues, the neighbourhood of Cedar Park lacks clean drinking water: “The water is Flint, Michigan brown,” Mr Caines said. Many residents cannot afford to purchase water purification, and cannot wash their clothes.
Lingering odours from sewerage around Schools Drive and Devon Lane have frustrated residents, he said, without being addressed over the last election cycle.
Ultimately, Mr Caines said he hoped to empower the residents in putting the building blocks in place to solve their own problems.
“Yes, we must hold our politicians accountable,” he said. “But people in these neighbourhoods have to be taught how to fish.”
Former premier Paula Cox, a Progressive Labour Party veteran in Devonshire from 1996 to 2012, stands now as the independent contender for Devonshire North West — and vows to bring her experience to bat for its residents.
“They want to know that, if we elect you, can we rely on you to deliver, to be available to us?” she said of Constituency 14’s voters.
“Politics is really about service. If elected, my job is to serve you.”
After spending “a lot of time in voters’ homes”, jobs and opportunity dominate their concerns, she said — and struggling residents “feel that the Government is ashamed of them as Bermudians — they feel their interests have not been given priority”.
Ms Cox said grandparents as well as parents had voiced concerns over education, expecting better for the younger generations.
She added that healthcare especially worries seniors, with grandmothers spending their pensions helping family members who lack jobs.
The constituency represents “Bermuda in macro”, she noted.
“In some areas it’s the beneficiaries, who have done well. You have another tier, young professionals and the able-bodied working. Then you have a group who are more distressed. They’re frustrated. They aren’t feeling that Bermuda is doing fairly by them.”
Instead of “two Bermudas, it’s four or five”, she said.
During her canvassing she has spoken with former prisoners who drew attention to their lack of second chances. Other residents have called upon her experience for legal advice.
“Don’t be under any misapprehension that in one fell swoop, everything is going to be changed,” she said.
Ms Cox expressed pride in the good governance legislation passed under her watch as premier.
But governments “forget that they serve at the pleasure of the people, and there is a social contract with the people”.
Ms Cox said she was confident she could bring Constituency 14 “a fair deal” and help entrepreneurs gain access to opportunity.
However, she added: “The only poll that counts is the poll on election day.
“I hope voters will come out. I hope they will support me, and I put my best foot forward.”
A prominent businessman who started out humbly with a horse and carriage on Front Street, Glen Smith is the One Bermuda Alliance MP for Devonshire North West — the area where he grew up playing in the Arboretum with children from “all walks of life”.
“I’ve worked this constituency since 2012,” he said, recalling thanking constituents after the December 17 win.
“It’s going relatively well,” he said of the mood on the doorsteps now. “I’ve made myself available.”
The OBA’s internal diversity stimulates debate in its ranks, he said, making it a “party that covers everyone”.
Variety is also a feature of the constituency, which ranges from “mom and pop shops, a good cross section of blue-collar workers, and a cross section of individuals that own businesses”.
The common theme on voters’ minds is “job stability, and growth in the economy”.
Education is “consistently” prominent, along with seniors’ concerns over welfare and the cost of living.
“I have a learning difference, which is dyslexia,” Mr Smith added. “And 70 per cent of our prisoners, female or male, have a learning difference. That’s why the education system is very important.”
Residents also want safer streets with more CCTV and better lighting.
Mr Smith was friends with Jahni Outerbridge of Cedar Park, whose murder at the start of the year underlined the need “to get a lot of these young men back to work, into a programme where they are productive citizens”.
Other issues in the area ranged from lighting and house painting in Cedar Park, to security cameras for Deepdale to curb drug activity.
“This is what the constituents wanted,” Mr Smith said, calling himself a “messenger” for the needs of constituents.
Other parochial concerns include overgrown trees and the build-up of litter.
“Roadworks should come up pretty soon,” Mr Smith added, noting that the steep stretch of Parsons Road can get like “an ice rink” when wet.
Mr Smith said that, above all, “the overall priority for everybody is the economy, and to make sure it continues going the right way”.
“The good news is the economy is certainly going in the right direction.”
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