By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Senator Julian Russell has offered himself again as a candidate for Central Grand Bahama in the upcoming general election.
Mr Russell, who ran as the candidate for Central Grand Bahama in 2012, was unsuccessful in unseating incumbent Free National Movement MP Neko Grant, who has never lost an election in the past 24 years of his political career.
However, Mr Grant announced his retirement from frontline politics last August, expressing concerns about the direction of the FNM under current Leader Dr Hubert Minnis.
Senator Russell, 61, said many individuals have approached him about whether he would be offering himself again as a candidate in upcoming 2017 election.
In a statement issued recently, Mr Russell confirmed his intention to run. He said that he is aware that others in the party have expressed interest in the constituency, which is their democratic right.
Freeport businesswoman Ginger Moxey, who recently announced her intention of entering politics, is also seeking to be the PLP’s candidate for Central Grand Bahama.
Mr Russell indicated that the final decision as to who will be the ratified standard bearer for the constituency “is presently going through the normal democratic process in accordance with the party’s constitution.”
“A final decision has not yet been made, but I believe it is imminent and it is my intention to respect and abide by that decision,” he said.
“What I have learnt and have come to appreciate since my affiliation with the oldest and most powerful political organisation in the country, is that it welcomes anyone who wants to be a part of this party; it has a huge tent, with members and supporters from every socio-economic background in the country. It also has many moving parts with a far-reaching global impact,” said Senator Russell.
“In 2011, I was named the PLP’s candidate for the now non-existent Eight Mile Rock constituency, and later became the party’s standard bearer for the Central Grand Bahama constituency, which is a combination of areas from the old Lucaya constituency and areas of the former Eight Mile Rock constituency.
“There were many headwinds pushing against my 2012 candidacy, given my opponent was a formidable FNM giant on Grand Bahama, Mr Neko Grant.
“Many persons, including some of my own family members thought I was crazy to even consider such a challenge, especially against someone who was viewed as the strongest FNM contender on Grand Bahama,” the senator said.
“They reminded me that he normally beat his opponents by more than 1,400 votes and when I analysed the 2007 results, I realised that the PLP had lost this constituency by more than 950 votes. Many individuals exerted great energy and efforts to discourage me, but I decided deep within myself that this was a journey I was ready to embark upon.
“The 2012 results are history. I was unsuccessful, losing by a little over one hundred votes in the third largest constituency in the Bahamas.
‘Since that time, I have absolutely no regrets and I’ve never looked back and will never look back.
“Notwithstanding the challenges the PLP government has faced over the past four and a half years and continues to face daily, I have been privileged to serve in my capacity as a senator and I hope that where I could help, I helped in a meaningful way.”
Senator Russell still believes that the PLP is the best political party to continue in the governance of this country. He also believes that Prime Minister Perry Christie is still the best man to be at the party’s helm, especially at this time.
He described Mr Christie as a “visionary.”
Stressing that it is a very critical time in the country’s development, Mr Russell said the country needs steady, stable, and focused leadership.
“Our country needs leadership that is not only experienced and visionary, but also stable and optimistic, especially in times of crisis.
“We need leadership that is caring and compassionate and unafraid to face the daunting challenges which will no doubt continue to come our way. We need leadership that speaks with clarity and is respected globally,” he said. Mr Russell said that his goal and vision for Central Grand Bahama, especially the communities of Hepburn Town, Pinder’s Point, Lewis Yard, Hunters, Mack Town, and the country, is to see an improvement in the standard of living for all, improved environment conditions, sustainable opportunities to earn a livable wage for everyone and equal pay for all regardless of a person’s gender, colour or size.