Progressive National Party (PNP) leader Dr Rufus Ewing (L) and deputy leader Carlos Simons have both been named as “at large” candidates in the November 9 election
The public relations arm of the Progressive National Party (PNP) appears to be purposely leaking the names of the individuals chosen by the party to run as candidates in the forthcoming elections, pre-empting an official announcement.
Party leader Dr Rufus Ewing, former director of medical services and architect of the National Health Insurance Plan heads the PNP team of “at large” hopefuls.
Deputy leader Carlos Simons QC, partner in the Miller Simons law firm, is the obvious second choice.
Royal Robinson, the former land surveyor turned politician, who unseated his brother Clarence Selver in the last election, is no surprise as the third team member. Robinson, who was the project coordinator for the hospital construction when Chinese workers were on the job, has been writing lengthy weekly articles critical of the British takeover.
However, Washington Misick is surprise number one. Returning from retirement, the former chief minister and CEO of real estate firm Prestigious Properties, was the chairman of the board during the infamous TCI Bank failure, which took down the savings of 4,000 TCI families and $23.5 million of the workers’ pension fund. Washington, brother of disgraced former premier Michael Misick, lost an election to Derek Taylor and the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) in 1995, after serving as chief minister for 3-1/2 years. He had defeated current leader of the PDM Oswald Skippings in the previous election.
Wayne Garland, a former elected parliamentarian, who headed tourist promotion for the PNP, working hand in hand with Michael Misick, is another surprise and the fifth member of the team. Salt Cay-born Garland may be the youngest member of the team and is the brother of the former PDM South Caicos Branch chairman.
Surprising omissions from the PNP’s slate of candidates are two local talk show hosts, Robert Hall and Rev. Conrad Howell.
With both parties naming their “at large” teams the line up appears to be as follows:
Leaders: Rufus Ewing (PNP) vs Oswald Skippings (PDM)
Deputies: Carlos Simons (PNP) vs Sharlene Cartwright Robinson (PDM)
Former Chief Ministers: Washington Misick (PNP) vs Derek Taylor (PDM)
Former Ministers: Royal Robinson (PNP) vs Samuel Harvey (PDM)
Wayne Garland (PNP) vs Josephine Connolly (PDM)
In the meantime, the PNP has also selected its ten choices for district candidates.
In Grand Turk, the party has picked George Lightbourne for the North district and Rex Swan for the southern seat. Each district has about 700 registered voters.
In South Caicos, former chief minister Norman Saunders Sr. will once again attempt to capture a majority of the fishing capital’s 315 voters. Saunders, who historically has gotten the nod from most of the approximately 110 voters of his district in South Caicos, had made it known he wanted an “at large” seat win to seal his legacy.
In North-Middle Caicos, former parliamentarian Don-Hue Gardiner will contest the combination of three districts, all of which supported his party in the last election. There are 500 voters to convince that the PNP did a good job in the past for the three districts.
In Providenciales, where there are over 700 voters per district, the PNP has named the following people to represent the party:
Bight: Porsha Stubbs Smith
Five Cays: Thomas Clay
Blue Hills: Adrian Williams
Downtown: Greg Lightbourne (a former member of the Michael Misick government)
Cheshire Hall: Amanda Misick (a former member of parliament)
Leeward: Akierra Missick (attorney and law partner of PNP deputy leader Carlos Simons, and former Bar Council head)
In the “at large” and district candidates, the PNP is fielding only five members of the previous elected government, all of whom, along with the new candidates, must submit themselves for approval of the Integrity Commission. It is now a criminal offence to omit or misstate assets on the required financial disclosure statements. This applies to all candidates, whether party-sponsored or independent.
PNP member rumoured as possible candidates but now omitted are the two sons of Norman Saunders Sr. — Norman Jr. and EJ Saunders, who is the well known head of the local Digicel operation. It also appears that, despite some earlier reports, former appointed minister of education, Dr Carlton Mills, was not in the running. Also, party executives Rev. Conrad Howell and Trevor Cooke did not appear to play into the process.
Jamal Robinson, the former head of the disaster management agency and former vice president of the Civil Service Association, who is also the son of at large candidate Royal Robinson, is also now on the outside.
Robinson had earlier been rumoured to be the Overback candidate for the capital island Grand Turk, which is heavily populated with civil servants.
Meanwhile, the PDM has not confirmed any district nominees but it appears former candidate Sean Astwood, son of party stalwart Louis, has a strong claim on the Five Cays candidacy, where he lost to Lillian Boyce in 2007. Boyce, a former minister, is now before the court facing allegations of corruption while in office.
The PDM will be looking to replace Arthur Robinson and Floyd Seymour, who won two of the four Grand Turk seats in 2007, but have now returned to their respective private business interests.
The other two Grand Turk seats were won by Floyd Hall and Samuel Bean of the PNP, both of who are also facing corruption charges.
In the meantime, the four Grand Turk districts have now been reduced to two as part of the recent redistricting exercise by the Electoral Boundaries Commission.
Whoever PDM selects in Grand Turk are expected to be backed by party leader Oswald Skippings and former leader Derek Taylor, both of whom reside on the capital island.