There’s plenty of room for improvements in the Second District, but none of those improvements can happen unless the district unites, said Allewine “Barbie” Smith at her campaign launch Friday evening in Cane Garden Bay.
“We have to work together as one body without prejudice to accomplish our goals. For a community divided is destined for failure, but a community that’s unified shows longevity and success,” Ms. Smith said.
Ms. Smith said that as her campaign continues, she plans to visit residents of the Second District to hear their views, a practice which she vowed to continue if elected, “in the House of Assembly or out of the House of Assembly.”
Ms. Smith spoke mostly about her desire to see the district redeveloped. She said the roads and drainage throughout the Second District need to be repaired, and that similar measures should be a priority for the entire territory, given its dependence on tourism.
The candidate described herself as “uniquely qualified” to represent the territory because of her varied work experience. After graduating from the then-BVI High School, Ms. Smith worked in the restaurant industry and for Native Son Ferry Service, then spent 14 years as an immigration officer.
Part of Ms. Smith’s mission of unity in the district will be making sure that jobs in the district are distributed more fairly, she said.
“It will not be one person who benefits from everything,” Ms. Smith said, adding that she has heard from residents who feel “left behind with hardly anything to do.”
Ms. Smith said she will accomplish this by ensuring that contracts are completed, and by working to create “hot spots” in the district.
Speaking after the launch, Ms. Smith explained that in the past, there were many locations in the district where residents and tourists alike would gather for events on the weekends.
“Everyone used to look forward to the weekend. You would see a lot of music in Cane Garden Bay or a fishing competition in Jost Van Dyke,” Ms. Smith said. If elected, Ms. Smith said she plans to do what she can to encourage more of these activities, such as advocating for more events that are sponsored or partially sponsored by the government.
Ms. Smith said she is optimistic about her chances of winning the election because she has heard from residents who say they are ready for a real change.
“We don’t just want a change in one area; we want a change to what is really going on,” she said, adding that she plans to run a campaign showing the people what she has to offer, rather than “going at the throat” of other candidates.
“We have to eliminate what we have and start fresh,” Ms. Smith said.
One change Ms. Smith proposes is a shift toward more transparent government. She said that many in the Second District are frustrated because they feel that they are being kept in the dark.
“They just see things happening and they’re not involved,” said Ms. Smith, who also supports making the register of legislators’ interests public. “Everyone should be able to know exactly what is going on.”
Ms. Smith said keeping the people informed will help everyone, particularly the youth, feel like they have more of a say in their government.
“They should be first in everything we do and plan for in this technological age to help move our country forward,” Ms. Smith said of the youth. Some measures she proposes include holding more after-school programmes that cater to their interests and help build their skills, such as a computer-training course.
“Such programmes will aid in developing and promote a place of after-school constructive learning and doing,” Ms. Smith said.