Leall Rymer knows there is value in education, but he says one of the biggest problems with the government of the day is that there is a lot of education, but not much common sense. This is one of the major reasons he is running to represent the Second District, he said this week.
“A lot of people, they put on the jacket and the tie and they think they know it all because they graduated from this school or that school,” Mr. Rymer said. “But that don’t mean you know it all.”
The wiser path, he said, is to have a government made up of people with expertise, experience and education in different arenas, and for everyone to compromise for the good of the territory.
“You may have all the education from the book, … but someone from the street can tell you something new,” he said.
But the reason that Mr. Rymer said really stirred him to run his second campaign — the first, in 1995, also for the Second District, was unsuccessful — was that he knows residents are tired of not being represented fairly.
He said he would treat every resident in the Second District equally, whether they are his friends or not, and that he would be available for all constituents.
“Right now we are not getting that,” he said. “You can call, and the politician don’t pay attention to you. Then somebody else calls and he’s right there. It shouldn’t be like that.”
Particularly neglected in recent years, Mr. Rymer said, are Jost Van Dyke residents, who are ready to have work begin in earnest on their community centre and their roads, two things he said he would fight for if elected to the House.
At this point, Mr. Rymer said, the current representative, Alvin Christopher, and his National Democratic Party competitor, Claude Skelton-Cline, are surrounded by “dictators”— favoured friends and relatives who will be “first in line” to reap whatever benefits the representative can gain for his district.
If he had the power to make only one change in the government and the civil service, he said, he would get rid of favouritism. He said public servants are moved and pressured out of jobs when the ruling party changes. Moreover, certain contractors get a lot of work but others get none, depending on who is charge, he added. These practices shouldn’t happen in a fair country, Mr. Rymer said.
Practically speaking, the candidate said one way to help promote fairness would be to mandate that at-large representatives serve as minister for finance and for communications and works.
“You can’t blame a man for helping his people,” Mr. Rymer said of ministers holding district seats, “But the at-large person has to look out for everybody.”
The other way to make sure that government runs more fairly is to make information public, he added. He said he would make sure every project in the district, even minor road repairs or small projects, is transparent.
Many of Mr. Rymer’s policy plans revolve around the tourism industry, because, he said, most working people make their money from tourism. To that end, he wants to see the territory invest in service training for everyone who works in the industry, from taxi drivers to clerks, cashiers and customs officers.
“We’ve got to get more people in,” Mr. Rymer said, adding that at the same time, visitors should be encouraged to visit more of the territory, rather than straining Road Town and Cane Garden Bay with large crowds.
And good service from people who are knowledgeable about the territory is the best way to generate good word-of-mouth advertising, he added.
“If you come to my hotel and the service is not good, you’re going to tell people, so then we’re losing people,” he said.
Mr. Rymer also said that taking care of the beach should be a higher priority, since that’s what tourists come to see. He would like to see beach cleaners and security guards hired. He is also an advocate of stricter rules governing home building.
“A lot of people, when they build a foundation, they cut the dirt, then they throw it over the side,” Mr. Rymer said. He said he thinks people would be willing to pay a little more when building their homes to incorporate cut dirt into the site if they understood that throwing it away can lead to cloudy water at the beach.
Mr. Rymer’s mother was from Cane Garden Bay and his father was from Jost Van Dyke, so his roots in the Second District are deep. The life-long CGB resident owns a watersports rental and water taxi company called Baby Bull Watersports. This work is partially to credit for his familiarity with the geography of the territory, he said.
“I know pretty much the whole of the BVI,” Mr. Rymer said.