Wednesday, 27 February 2013 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John's - Armed with the support of his parents – Sir Adolphus Freeland and Lady Ruth Francis-Freeland – and under the observation of the general secretary of the Antigua Labour Party, Mary-Clare Hurst, Michael Freeland officially launched his political career.
Before scores of voters from the St Georges constituency in the New Winthorpes Primary School auditorium, Freeland said there was no way his bid for office could ever be overshadowed by the track record of the party’s incumbent, Dean Jonas.
Monday night’s presentation was the first of two planned by Freeland in the constituency to sensitize the voting public to his political intent.
Received by resounding applause, Freeland reiterated in his first official political presentation his commitment to the constituency where he has been considered the prince for almost three decades.
He believes his entry into the political arena comes at a “critical point” in the history of Antigua & Barbuda, with deficiencies in education, security, earning potential for the average household, and more, all of which he directly links to leadership failure and petty politics.
"We've seen better days in St Georges… Progress to date has been slow,” Freeland said. “It needs set priorities and the making of firm and difficult decisions to create avenues for empowerment and overall betterment.”
He told the crowd, "Your interests are my interests. My duty is to serve you... This campaign is not about me. It is about us... Let us move on... To new politics where politicians are public servants... To change our economy to a sustainable one...”
Under the critical yet seemingly respectful stare of his father, Freeland outlined a fraction of his plans for the community, which include the formation of a village council designed to hold the politician and the communities together.
These councils are to act as a bridge between himself and the average community member, bringing to him the concerns of the people that he might not be able to sit with on an individual basis.
They will also be positioned to manage programmes for domestic support, and general projects for overall community development and empowerment.
“I came into politics because of love of nation... and this village,” he told constituents. "I chose to rise and have you the people decide who is best to lead you into the next general elections.
"The choice should be clear.”
Hurst declared Freeland a “fit candidate” to challenge the St George’s constituency seat on the ALP ticket. The party executive determined his status since there are no expressed provisions in the ALP Constitution to determine the eligibility of prospective candidates after their intent would have been forwarded from the level of the constituency branch to the party headquarters for consideration.
"I believe that comrade Michael Freeland is indeed a suitable candidate for the ALP, however there is a process and that process must be followed,” Hurst said.
The selection between Michael Freeland, Dean Jonas, and potentially Kelton Dalso will be determined by a poll soon to be conducted within the constituency by an international pollster. The results should be known by the end of March.
Hurst said she was not present at Freeland’s meeting to endorse a candidate, but merely to outline the programmes of the ALP, and look at candidate selection, polling, and membership.
Jonas said some time ago that Freeland could not beat him in any race. When Caribarena contacted him on Tuesday, he said it was the party’s decision to undertake polling in all 10 constituencies where they lost, and St Georges is no different.
“I accept that, and I am going along with the party’s position. I have nothing else to say on this matter,” Jonas said.