By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
ELECTION billboards and political paraphernalia are out in Grand Bahama where five constituency seats are up grabs.
The two major political parties, the governing Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party, have erected hundreds of street signs and posters along major thoroughfares on the island.
The general election will be held on September 16, and candidates have less than a month left to convince voters to support them.
Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson said the voter register still must be certified.
“We are still going through the process to certify the register before it is published,” he said.
The five FNM candidates are Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson (East Grand Bahama); Michael Pintard, (incumbent Marco City); Pakesia Parker Edgecombe (incumbent West End and Bimini); Iram Lewis (incumbent Central Grand Bahama); and newcomer Welbourne Bootle (Pineridge).
Rev Frederick McAlpine, former FNM MP for Pineridge, is running as an independent candidate. He believes he will be re-elected.
“The campaign is going really well,” Mr McAlpine said. “It seems like it is going to be a three-way race led by the incumbent at the end of the day.”
He noted that the demographics have changed over the past 20 years, which he thinks bodes well for him as an independent candidate.
“We are dealing with millennials and the XYZ generations who have a different perspective and a different view politically,” he said. “They don’t see colour, and they are not necessarily loyal to a political party. And this is a great opportunity for me to be doing this, especially when people feel they are in a political leader deficit in the country.”
Rev McAlpine added: “They are looking for someone who can speak to their issues and fight for matters that concern them, and I think I happen to be that individual in Pineridge.”
Rev McAlpine claims that he has lots of support from constituents.
“We are having a great bit of support and at the end of the day, based on the numbers, I intend to win Pineridge again and to be re-elected to be MP for Pineridge. So, there is much desire to see me elected by constituents,” he said.
Although he is not affiliated with any political organisation, Rev McAlpine says he has received support and endorsement from some of the newly formed political parties.
“I have not joined any party, but I am supported by the Coalition party who had basically endorsed me, and I also think the BCP (Bahamas Constitution Party) has locally endorsed me, as well.”
Rev McAlpine said to reach millennials his campaign team is using various social media platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram.
He said he is proud of what he has been able to accomplish in the past four and a half years.
“As the MP for Pineridge, I was able to open up a whole school for persons to complete their education, and it is accredited with the Ministry of Education,” he said.
“I was able to get roads fixed in Hudson Estates that I agitated for, and for the improvements in health care at the hospital; the courthouse, which was also repaired, and for the Post Office. And during Hurricane Dorian, I was there for my people feeding them, and not just people of Pineridge but people of Grand Bahama.
“And so, I am pleased with my time and pleased with what I have done, and I look forward to working with them in the future to accomplish some other things in the Pineridge constituency.”
He said he was able to do all those things basically as an independent MP, due to friction with him and Free National Movement leaders over the past few years.
“And then there is this whole thing, that I can’t do anything as an independent. Well, that is not true because the fact of the matter is I have been operating as an independent for the last four and a half years, and I have done more as an independent than some who are sitting in the House as ministers and MPs under the government,” he said.
The Tribune reached out to several of the other Grand Bahama candidates for insight on how their campaigns are going, however they could not be contacted up to press time.