The ruling Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for East Kingstown, Sen. Luke Browne, says he has taken “in stride” his defeat at the polls during his first outing in 2010 but never abandoned the constituency.
“I am here to help you get a different and better future,” he told the small gathering who braved pounding rain at the ULP rally in Sion Hill Saturday night.
“I am here to tell you that you don’t have to settle for the type of representation that you have received over the last 17 years or so. I am here to say that you don’t have to put up with the excuses, or the lack of interest, energy, creativity and expertise that you have been forced to endure,” said Browne, who is also Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Sports.
In the upcoming general elections, Browne will make a second attempt to unseat Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, who has been representing the constituency since 1998.
“We gather here at Sion Hill tonight on the verge of an important election that has implications for the future of East Kingstown, and of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He said his election bid is also a defining moment in his life, having recently turned 30.
“Borrowing a line from John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign song, which still resonates today even though it was written in the 1960s, I am ‘old enough to know” and “young enough to do’,” Browne said.
“That is, old enough to know about life and about what representation should entail, and young enough to have the energy, vigour, drive and resources to get things done.”
Browne noted his roots in East Kingstown, pointing out that he was born and has lived in the district all his life.
“I am not someone who came to this constituency merely for political convenience, without a real attachment to the people of East Kingstown.”
Browne said he represented Sion Hill on the cricket field, before playing for the national team.
“I played among the likes of Do Bad, Augustine Victory, Mutt, Big Stowe from Rockies, Gary Rodriguez also from Rockies, Ronald Medford, even Clayton Burgin, and several others. I was not able to play with the legend called Manning Jackson, but my father told me so many fascinating stories about him, and I have great admiration for him. We honoured him with an award not so long ago.”
He spoke of his Christian faith and his membership in the Streams of Power Church.
“In short, I come out of your very bosom,” he said, and noted Abraham Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
“I am going to modify that tonight and say that I offer you representation from East Kingstown, for East Kingstown….
“Comrades, Brothers and Sisters, you don’t have to put up with a man who treats the daughters of this constituency in the way that Arnhim Eustace treated Rishatha Nicholls and Anesia Baptiste.”
Eustace fired Nicholls, his former secretary in 2013, and Baptiste, a former senator, in 2012.
Nicholls mounted the platform on Saturday, saying that she and her family will vote for Browne in the upcoming elections.
“This same Arnhim Eustace was so condescending in relation to teachers and public servants when he held the reins of government; his famous words were: ‘Not one more cent for them.’ I want us to keep this in mind in light of all that is going on,” Browne said.
The Teachers’ Union and the Public Service Union have announced a one-day strike for Tuesday.
The unions are continuing their efforts to force the government to pay public sector workers one month’s salary increase in lieu of no salary increase since 2011.
“I am here tonight to say that you deserve better than someone who would go to New York and embarrass the people of Walvaroo, rather than try to uplift them; someone who does not attend the National Heroes Day Celebration at Dorsetshire Hill; and someone who is so irresponsible that he did not share information with police that may have saved a young man’s life. This must have brought pain and sorrow to a mother’s heart.
Simply put, I am here to tell the people of East Kingstown that there is hope for a better future and for better representation,” Browne said.
Browne told party supporters he wonders on what basis or for what reason, Eustace could justifiably ask the people of East Kingstown to re-elect him for another five-year term.
“He often boasts about the fact that he has been the representative of this constituency for 17 years, but what does he have to show for it? What has he achieved on your behalf? What is he going to do differently now? Mr. Eustace had 17 years to prove himself, and with all due respect, he came up short. He was marking time more than anything else, and it is time for him to get out of the way of progress. He simply needs to collect his pension and enjoy his retirement with his wife,” Browne said.
“I have said elsewhere that he could spare himself a defeat at the polls by resigning and getting out of Parliament before the elections. He still has time to do so gracefully and without any public embarrassment. But, I want him to know in no uncertain terms that no one would be allowed to jeopardise the future of the people of East Kingstown,” Browne sad.