Progressive Labour Party senator Jason Hayward is the newest Member of Parliament after a huge victory at the polls last night.
Mr Hayward, until recently the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, defeated One Bermuda Alliance senator Dwayne Robinson by 311 votes to 173 to assume the seat vacated after the sudden death last month of party stalwart Walton Brown. Five ballots were rejected.
Voter turnout for the by-election — which is typically lower than in general elections — was 44 per cent, with only 489 of the 1,120 registered voters going to the polls.
The result restores the PLP’s sizeable advantage in the House of Assembly to 25-11.
Mr Hayward said last night he was “elated” about the results.
He added: “Tonight shows what can happen when the PLP works together. We can achieve anything.”
Mr Hayward said he would support the Government as it worked to deliver for the people of Bermuda, and that he would go back out to his constituency and speak to them to make sure he represents their interests.
David Burt, the Premier, who returned from government business in Mexico in time for the by-election, said: “The House of Assembly is going to have a very able champion to carry on the legacy of the late Walton Brown.”
He added that he was not phased by the poor turnout, saying: “By-election turnout is typically low, but I think MP Hayward got 64 per cent of the vote, close to two thirds of the vote.
“That is something that recognises this constituency supports the Government’s work and its efforts to build a better and fair Bermuda while we challenge the status quo that has not been delivering for many persons for so long.”
Mr Robinson said the constituency had made its choice and wished Mr Hayward the best of luck.
He said: “I will return to Senate and I will continue to serve the people as best I can.”
Craig Cannonier, Leader of the Opposition, said Mr Robinson was a fine candidate and would do well for the community in the future.
Mr Hayward and Mr Robinson said that constituency concerns such as trash collection and rat problems had been on voters’ minds, as well as matters of wider concern.
Mr Robinson added: “There are national issues like the cost of living and job opportunities ... There are also issues like roads being paved, the third stack at Belco and environmental issues.”
Mr Hayward said: “The issues I have been hearing about on the doorstep have been trash collection, education and the cost of living.
“There are also more central issues like the rodent problems, trash collection and road works.
“Typically, people haven’t had major issues, and they just want accountability from the political parties.”
One voter, who asked not to be identified, said she had chosen to support Mr Hayward because of his past work in the community.
She said: “He’s someone who works hard, who fights hard. He’s not someone who just talks, but he gets involved.”
The voter added that she wanted to see the Government move forward with measures to create job opportunities and improve the quality of life for the impoverished in Bermuda.
Another voter, however, said they were concerned about the lack of progress since the election of the PLP in 2017.
He said: “If feels like there has been a lot of talk, but not a lot of real action. If I had wanted more of the same, I wouldn’t have voted.”
After his unveiling as a candidate, Mr Hayward said he wanted to help vulnerable members of the community as an MP.
He had said he hoped to carry on the legacy of Walton Brown.
Mr Brown retained the Pembroke Central seat for the PLP in the 2017 General Election, defeating the OBA’s Andrew Simons by 540 votes to 283, with almost 72 per cent of registered voters going to the polls.
He had won the seat — previously held by the PLP’s Wayne Perinchief — in 2012 after edging past Mr Simons by only six votes.
Voter turnout in the constituency for that election was 63 per cent.
Mr Robinson had said that, if successful, he wanted to address environmental issues and fight for those in the constituency.
However, he came under heavy fire this week over comments made almost three years ago about the December 2, 2016 clash between police and protesters on It’s That Type of Party, a satirical webcast he cohosted.