Delores Christopher stood before a crowd of District Five voters Saturday night and told them that whomever they choose to send to the House of Assembly on Nov. 7 needs a vision.

“When you become a representative there is not a government policy telling you what you must do in your district,” Ms. Christopher said. “You are guided by your vision, the needs of your people and the concerns they express to you.”

Ms. Christopher, who served as the National Democratic Party’s Fifth District representative from 2003 to 2007, addressed the crowd gathered near the basketball court in Huntums Ghut to tell them her plans if elected. She’d like to see better roads, more attention to the arts, and a community centre for the district, she said.

She added that a territory-wide annual festival for the arts is needed to showcase the talents of sculptors, costume-makers, musicians and others.

“How frequently do we hear concerns about offering activities to entice visitors and tourists other than sun, sea and sand? Could we not mount a month-long festival of arts and give some added reasons and excitement to visit us?” she said.

She also called for the restoration of historical sites and the creation of a “Fifth District Historical Society” to operate them.

Much of her speech focused on a proposal to create a “resource centre.” It would be run similarly to the Youth Empowerment Project in Long Look, but it would be open to adults and children.

During her previous stint in office, Ms. Christopher set up a resource centre by renting a three-bedroom apartment in Huntums Ghut, stocking it with computers, and opening it to the district’s youth. But when her term in office ended, the lease with the apartment owner did, too, she said. The centre was dismantled and the computers were taken from the district and given to a school, she added.

Opponent’s criticism

Elvis “Juggy” Harrigan (R-D5), who is seeking re-election in the same district, referenced the computers’ removal at his launch on Friday.

“Let me remind you all that my very first project immediately after election, immediately after taking office, without any time to set up my own office in the House of Assembly, was to replace all the computers, all ten of them; the desks, the chairs, reading books …  and even the sign outside the building,” Mr. Harrigan said of the centre. “My opponent and her cronies cleaned out the resource centre.”

But Ms. Christopher defended her actions in her campaign speech.

“I took my responsibilities seriously given the monthly commitment I made to pay the rent,” she said. “In retrospect, I could have handled it a little differently. I’m woman enough to admit that. But we always have the benefit of hindsight.”

Ms. Christopher also said that if elected she would improve the district’s roads and other infrastructure, much of which has been damaged by weather in recent years.

“These should be kept in a far better condition than the terrible situation we have had to endure for more than two years now,” she said.

Eileene Parsons, a former NDP legislator and the first female deputy chief minister, lauded the party’s two female candidates.

She said that Ms. Christopher and Alvera Maduro-Caines, who is vying for the Sixth District seat, are women who can “fend for themselves” in the HOA.

“They are two very capable women, women of substance, … two women who when they speak from the political rostrum they speak their own tongues,” Ms. Parsons said.

Former civil servant

Other speakers focused on Ms. Christopher’s experience as a civil servant.  After starting as a stenographer in the Medical and Health Department in 1968, Ms. Christopher rose through government in positions with the Chief Minister’s and Deputy Governor’s offices, eventually retiring in 1998 as administrator of the Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs.

She was first elected with the NDP in 2003, but was defeated by Mr. Harrigan by a margin of 28 votes in 2007.

Dr. Orlando Smith, the opposition leader and head of the NDP, detailed the party’s plans to improve the economy, health care and education, issues that have become familiar themes during the campaign. He also urged Fifth District voters to support Ms. Christopher on what he referred to as her “proven record.”

“Delores worked hard for you during the four years when she was in office: very, very hard. She is now ready, and willing and able, to work with our NDP team for another four years,” he said.