Vice-President of the New Democratic Party with responsibility for Internal Affairs, St. Clair Leacock, says he believes that retired banker Laverne Gibson-Velox will once again be the party’s candidate for East. St. George.
Gibson-Velox who was the party’s candidate in the district in 2020 and is now the constituency caretaker, is facing a challenge by lawyer Maferne Mayers-Oliver, who entered the fray this month.
Speaking recently on the issue, Leacock said that the NDP has a democratic process through which candidates are selected, and said that the party sees as a good thing, multiple people expressing interest in becoming the candidate in a single constituency.
Speaking on the NDP’s “New Times” on NICE Radio, Leacock further said that while a potential candidate has a right to express and pursue that interest, they must also determine whether it is better to support the incumbent candidate.
Leacock, who is into a third five-year term as MP for Central Kingstown, said he believes that Gibson-Velox will emerge as the candidate in East St. George.
He reminded listeners that in 2020, when there was “procrastination with the candidate coming forward for East St. George … and even their own executive couldn’t get themselves going”, Central Kingstown provided a platform for Gibson-Velox through his slot in the party’s radio programme and the consistency’s virtual public meeting to promote her candidacy.
Leacock said he also provided space on the radio programme for Adriana King, who was also in the running to become the candidate for East St. George.
“But people who are listening could come to the conclusion that Major probably had his bias and … who I was favouring,” he said, referring to himself by his military title, by which he is affectionately known.
“When the meeting was held for her selection at the Anglican Town Hall in Calliaqua, they still had some division as to who should or should not be. And I remember Bert [Francois] and myself playing a role — and I will not call names here now — in getting her past the process and I was the happiest man to have Laverne Velox to be candidate.
“He went on and she did not disappoint.”
In the 2020 general elections, Gibson-Velox came within 196 votes of stopping Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves from securing a second term in office.
Five years earlier, Gonsalves won the seat by 607 votes — defeating the NDP’s Linton Lewis, who lost in his fourth bid to win a St. George seats.
Gonsalves is widely seen as a frontrunner to become the next leader of the ruling Unity Labour Party.
The 3,135 votes he amassed in the 2015 poll was higher than any other of his party’s candidates, including his father, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
“Miss Velox is a significant and substantial person — is one of the females who broke through the glass ceiling when she became a manager of a commercial bank in Kingstown.”
He said he has seen Gibson-Velox’s work.
“I know of her leadership; I know of her generosity. I know of her ability to reach out to help very, very many people. I know of her core strengths. I know her as a young person in Montrose in the village that I came from.
“People would remember her as a netballer and an athlete of many moons ago. And I know her as one who provided me personally with assistance that mattered when others would not do that,” said Leacock, who is also a businessman.
“And I doh wipe me mouth when people have been good to me. So, if I have a choice of the two individuals at the moment and on the basis of Laverne’s performance inside of the party at the moment as an assistant, she’s competent, she goes out of the way and she makes the executive of the party better for gender wisdom, for her commitment and for her application. “
He said he would not discuss or suggest what more or different he thinks Gibson-Velox can do, adding that what is good for his constituency or another might not be applicable to her East St. George situation.
“We do not have a party where one size fits all. It is each to his own strength and to his own circumstances. What works for her may not be what works for me and what works for [one candidate] may not be what works for [another].
“And she has charted a particular course that is working for her and I believe it will be sufficient to see her across the finish line. What I would like to see is that us as a party, embrace the other interests, such that there is no undermining or looking over the shoulder, or quarterbacking or second guessing, because the more hands and ability that we put on deck is the easier or more likely that we’ll have a political victor,” he said.