Virtually unknown DLP hopeful faces grilling
A battle may be brewing within the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) for a candidate to challenge Kerrie Symmonds of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in St James Central.
Symmonds unseated the DLP’s George Hutson in the 2013 election, winning by 2,211 votes to 1,990 by Hutson, avenging his defeat to Hutson in 2008.
However, signs are beginning to emerge that the DLP St James Central branch is looking beyond Hutson and is considering the little-known George Connolly.
A decision is to be made in two weeks’ time, but when DLP stalwart and former Cabinet minister Keith Simmons shouted from the floor during a branch meeting last night at the Good Shepherd Primary School in Fitts Village, St James, that he did not want Hutson to be the candidate in the general election due in about a year from now, there was little to no protest.
However, Simmons, a former Member of Parliament for St James South, did not allow Connolly a free pass, demanding information on the prospective candidate’s background.
Little was revealed, except Connolly’s educational achievements – he was educated at the Christ Church Foundation School, the Barbados Community College, studied in Canada and the United Kingdom, and is the holder of an MBA in International Business – and that he was married and was the father of a nine-year-old boy.
Connolly faced relentless grilling from party faithful – one person wanted to know if he could handle criticism, to which he replied it was part of life – with those in attendance seemingly unfamiliar with the man who had offered to be their representative in Parliament.
However, it was general council member Dr Kevin Kellman who pressed hardest, demanding to know why Connolly wanted to be involved in politics and whether the candidate-in-waiting loved people.
“My question to you is, do you love people? The reason why I am asking you that is because I as a doctor am in a profession where that is essential. I believe that in order for you to be effective as a doctor you must have a genuine love for people.
“It will show in how you deal with patients and they will speak about it. This is analogous to a politician,” Dr Kellman said, advising Connolly that when voters enter the booth on election day, they vote for candidates to whom they feel connected, not necessarily for policies.
In his continued attempt to get to know Connolly, Dr Kellman continued to pose a number of other questions, ranging from the DLP hopeful’s commitment to the constituency to his vision for the people.
“Are you prepared to sacrifice your interests and put it on the altar to make sure that your constituents get what they want? Are you prepared to go out there come hell or high water and do the hard work that is necessary? Are you prepared to listen to criticism and not take it personally? Are you prepared to go on the block and engage those fellows on the block? Are you prepared to go into the bars and engage the people in there? Are you prepared to give to the people your vision for them, the constituency and by extension the country at large?”
Connolly simply sat and listened while the questions were being fired at him, giving Dr Kellman the last say.
“If you are not prepared to do that, be done with it,” the general council member warned, stressing he needed answers in order to give Connolly his full support.