Justin Mathias and Scott Pearman were announced by the One Bermuda Alliance yesterday as its candidates for two by-elections.
Mr Mathias will carry the Opposition’s flag in Warwick North East against the Progressive Labour Party’s Curtis Dickinson and Mr Pearman will contest Paget East with Curtis Richardson on June 7.
Mr Pearman, 46, is a lawyer and director of the charity Family Centre, while 25-year-old Mr Mathias, deputy chairman of the party, heads the OBA’s youth wing and was appointed senator last year. Both candidates have political experience — Mr Pearman has served as the party’s chairman in Paget and Mr Mathias has canvassed for the OBA in the past two elections.
Jeanne Atherden, the Leader of the Opposition, said the announcement marked “just the beginning in our process of rebuilding”.
She added: “This by-election, and in general, the focus of the OBA is to strengthen our elected team with new ideas, skills and attributes, which will expand our ability to serve you, our constituents.”
Ms Atherden said both candidates had been “born and raised in the parishes that they now want to serve” and were keen to hear residents’ “concerns, hopes and desires”.
She told voters: “They will be your voice to direct positive action.”
The selections were triggered by the retirement from politics of veteran Paget East MP Grant Gibbons and the resignation of Jeff Baron from Warwick North East. Mr Pearman, who said he had started to canvass two weeks ago, emphasised that Dr Gibbons’s retirement had been known about in the party ranks “for a long time”.
He added: “It’s humbling to have the opportunity to represent the people of Paget East in the House of Assembly. Like Bermudians everywhere, I want our island to succeed.”
He emphasised the importance of education to prepare Bermudians for the workforce and said he stood for “a Bermuda bound together by compassion, by responsibility, and most of all, by the understanding that we work best when we work together”.
Mr Mathias said that he was unhappy with the state of politics as he grew up. He explained: “I wasn’t happy with the level of political discourse and the overall political landscape”.
He said he had studied accountancy and political science, but had come home after completing his degree to find Bermuda “an even more polarised, toxic and divided nation”.
Saying he had been encouraged during his chairmanship of the Future Bermuda Alliance, Mr Mathias added: “I hope that this is the first step in many in ushering in young people to get involved and feel passionate about the issue that face us.”
Under the terms of the Bermuda Constitution, Mr Mathias will step down from the Upper House once his candidacy is confirmed on nomination day, May 24.
His Senate seat will remain vacant until after the by-election. Mr Atherden hinted at other fresh faces to come for the OBA, telling the press: “When you’re in a position where the party is rebuilding, sometimes people in so they can grow and become that beginning of longevity is the best course of action.”
Asked if more senior members were mulling retirement, Ms Atherden said: “Everybody who is a Member of Parliament some days gets up and thinks ‘why am I doing this?’”
“The transition means that at least if we have the discussion, we can make sure that we get different people out there involved — and then having more opportunity for them to take over seats in any of the constituencies.”
Paget East has been held consistently by the OBA over the past two elections, and the United Bermuda Party before it.
Warwick North East is historically more of a borderline constituency, in which Mr Baron narrowly won the seat by 65 votes against Kathy Lynn Simmons of the PLP.