By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
SIDNEY Collie defeated Rodney Moncur by 62 votes in the FNM chairmanship contest last night and declared the “real victory” will come in May 2017.
Surrounded by a group of jubilant supporters after his 62-vote victory, Mr Collie said that the FNM was pressing forward into its convention scheduled for November and then on to the next general election.
The former Blue Hills MP said he was committed to doing whatever it took to ensure that the FNM secures the 2017 election, contending that the county is in turmoil and suffering gravely from the continuous mishaps of the Christie administration.
Mr Collie proclaimed that the road to “rescuing the country” was finally underway.
“In seven months, the FNM is going into convention. Between now and then, all the organs of the party, all the associations of the party, all the islands in the country, Grand Bahama and all the constituencies in New Providence are going to be mobilised so that we can put on the best national convention together,” he said.
“Once that convention is over, we are going to hit the ground running with our campaign co-ordinating team, with our voters drive and with our canvassing. We are not going to stop and we will not relent until we take back this government from the PLP.”
The election of Mr Collie was hailed as a “step forward” for the FNM by party leader Dr Hubert Minnis. The Killarney MP said of Mr Collie: “He is a man of great honour and integrity. He is a leader who has always put his county, family and honour at the forefront. I’m thrilled to head into an exciting and important time with him on the team.”
Dr Minnis, continuing a theme he has used often in the last few months, called for unity within the ranks of the FNM. In addition to commending Mr Collie on his win, Dr Minnis extended support to Mr Moncur. He added that despite his defeat, Mr Moncur had pledged to work along with the party’s leadership team to better its message and platform heading into 2017.
Raising the arms of both men to groundswell of support, Dr Minnis stated: “And Rodney has promised to no longer cuss me on his talk show.”
It was anticipated that 202 delegates would take part in last night’s vote. However, prior to the vote it was announced that only 183 delegates would cast ballots. Of those, only 116 cast ballots – roughly 63 per cent of possible delegates. Mr Collie won by 89 votes to 27.
In the buildup to yesterday’s vote, Mr Moncur called on members of the FNM to get “fired up”, insisting that the “soft, timid” approach by Minnis led party wouldn’t result in victory at the 2017 election.
Speaking to reporters after his defeat, Mr Moncur renewed that call. Refusing to speak against the FNM’s leadership team, he said his candidacy for chairmanship indicated that the supports were in search of “something different”.
“The struggle continues,” he claimed. “There is far more to this matter of leading the party and so, at this stage I pledge to give Sidney Collie the kind of critical support that he needs.
“We need more participation at the constituency level. We have a situation where if the leader doesn’t like you then, you know. (I’m) 59, I am to old to be liking man and I say it respectfully. We need a process that is more open.”
He said the FNM had allowed itself it become “constipated” with “poor decision making” and as a result, the party has lost it way.
Mr Moncur said that while he wasn’t bitter towards those who didn’t vote for him, “only time would be able to tell if the FNM made the correct choice”.
He called for a more open process to the partisan elections. He claimed that voters that matter, non-delegates, would have “spoken in the loudest voice possible” that the FNM needed to do things differently.
Supporters that gathered at the party’s Mackey Street headquarters held a range of opinions. Many that spoke with The Tribune endorsed the messages pushed by Mr Moncur in recent weeks. Of the group, many called on the party to adopt his “radical approach” to fighting the Christie administration.
Mr Collie has been a member of the FNM for the past 39 years, serving in the capacities of Senator, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Minister, Ambassador and MP. Michael Pintard resigned as FNM chairman last month and Brensil Rolle was named interim chairman shortly after.