A new face joined the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement during rallies in Cane Garden Bay and Jost Van Dyke this weekend: the party’s fourth and final at-large candidate, Lesmore Smith.
PVIM head Ronnie Skelton introduced the businessman, who is president of the BVI Horse Owners’ Association, to the crowd during the first party event on Saturday.
“He’s not afraid to learn new skills, he’s not afraid to take risks. He is a risk-taker,” Mr. Skelton said.
The new candidate admitted that it was his first time speaking at a political rally.
“Tonight, for me, is indeed a bit nerve-wracking situation because it’s my first time ever in such a position. But I guarantee you by the end of this whole trail-blazing situation, [when] the territory’s done with the election, I should be as good as the last,” he said, gesturing to the other at-large candidates sitting behind him.
Mr. Smith said his platform focuses on ensuring a “vibrant” economy in the territory and stability for residents. Senior citizens should be given more attention, he said, adding that he would like to create a district funds system that would help take care of seniors and children.
Mr. Smith also said he has invested over $100,000 “back into [his] community” over the last 13 years.
“I am not here to brag or boast, but I am saying that if God has blessed me and blessed you, then bless somebody else,” he said.
Mr. Skelton, who was fired from his position as health and social development minister late last year after announcing he was forming his own party, expressed his unwavering faith in the PVIM on Saturday.
“I know with a deep conviction that the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement is in the right place at the right time,” Mr. Skelton said.
Mitch Turnbull, who is running for re-election in the Second District, also praised his new party, calling his fellow candidates “doers.” Mr. Turnbull left the National Democratic Party last year to join Mr. Skelton and the PVIM.
Despite his switch in affiliation, Mr. Turnbull reminded residents of the work he said he and the NDP government have accomplished in the district over the last few years.
Some $1.3 million in funding was used to revitalise Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay, Mr. Turnbull said, and distribution centres were set up throughout the district so supplies could be given to families after Hurricane Irma.
“I am not afraid of work, nor am I going to leave, nor did I leave after the hurricane,” he said. “I stayed with the people, I worked with the people and we committed to doing the job until it was satisfied that we were all comfortable.”
The following day, PVIM candidates made their way over to Jost Van Dyke. At the rally there, Mr. Skelton repeated similar mantras as in CGB, including that the party is in the “right place at the right time.”
Mr. Skelton again complimented his fellow candidates, including Mr. Turnbull and Shaina Smith, who is running at large.
Ms. Smith later remarked that she remembers being “so shocked” at seeing the devastation on Jost Van Dyke after Irma.
“But I am very happy tonight to see the progress to date and want to work for you to see more of it,” she said.