By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
LONG ISLAND MP Loretta Butler-Turner last night called herself and Senator Dr Duane Sands the “best team” not only to lead the Free National Movement, but also to take the country out of the hands of the “worst government the country has ever seen”.
Addressing a crowd of what The Tribune estimated to be 200 supporters in Rawson Square, Mrs Butler-Turner took the government to task on its many “failed promises” while outlining her plan for a new FNM and a new Bahamas.
One of her key ideas to crack down on crime is to implement a minimum sentence of 30 years without the chance for parole for convicted murderers.
She was supported by several current FNM members of Parliament as well as former Cabinet ministers, including former FNM Leader Tommy Turnquest, Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant, St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman, former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson, former House Speaker Alvin Smith, former FNM Chairman Darron Cash,
Senator Monique Gomez, former Senator Heather Hunt, former Senate President Lynn Holowesko and former Garden Hills MP Brensil Rolle, who all publicly endorsed her as the “woman to take the country to the next level”.
Mrs Butler-Turner described herself as a 21st century leader as she pledged to create jobs and opportunities for young persons, loosen lending rules for borrowers, improve the justice system, reduce crime, improve the education system, stimulate the economy and bring down the cost of electricity.
The Long Island MP was overwhelmed with cheers as she outlined her approach to addressing the “vexing” crime problem in the country. She said a “Turner and Sands” government would ensure that no crime, no matter how small, goes unpunished, as she promised to impose a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole for all convicted murders.
“Crime is our cancer. When criminals are caught, our justice system must be relentless. This means rooting out incompetence, injustice and, where it is found and corruption from our courts and prosecutorial teams.
“But it also means taking radical steps to impose stiffer penalties against our most dangerous, and to impose them more rapidly. Homicides should carry with them a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison with no right to parole,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“Finally, we must accept that there is no such thing as a small crime. Any act of vandalism, no matter how big or small, is an act of hostility to our community, every trespass a potential source of fear. Every petty theft an invitation to more serious crimes. By adopting a New Providence-wide approach to saturation police patrols, and punishing people for a crime as soon as it is spotted, we can do for Nassau what worked for New York and other cities, restore a sense of order first and security second and little by little, of civic pride third. If it worked for what used to be the toughest city on earth, it can work for us.”
Mrs Butler-Turner also implored all FNM supporters to reach out to the 410 voting delegates and encourage them to vote for her and Dr Sands.
“You have an opportunity to choose Turner and Sands. I want to talk very seriously; we are a team because we know it takes more than one person to run a country. We are a team because we know we are going to need a lot more hands in this with us and so when we say to you that this is our launch for FNM convention in July 2016,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“We want you to understand that many of you may not have the opportunity to vote at our convention but you can go to those 410 people who will be making that choice for you and tell them you want us. I am going to reach out, along with my partner, and we will talk to every 410 of them and we are going to tell them our plan for turning this country around.
“We are going to tell them we need to rid this country of this burdensome PLP government. We are going to tell them that this fight is not within the FNM but this is for saving the country. Please join us, please tear up the phone lines, please tear up social media, please talk to the 410 delegates. We will do our part, but we need you to do yours.”
The FNM’s convention is slated for July 27 - 29.
Mrs Butler-Turner lost her leadership challenge to Dr Hubert Minnis at the party’s last convention in 2014. Dr Sands also ran unsuccessfully for the deputy leader post, losing to East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest.