The race in the upcoming Grand Bay by-election is taking form as two of three candidates have officially launched their campaigns in the constituency.
Dr. Vince Henderson, the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) nominee and independent candidate Julius Gabriel, popularly known as Handbag, have begun unveiling, directly to Grand Bay voters, their plans and ideas for the constituency if elected in the November 25, 2021 by-election in that constituency.
Gabriel, who was launched over the weekend, told constituents that his development plans for Grand Bay include full economic enfranchisement for all, the creation of sustainable job opportunities especially for the youths, the establishment of a knowledge-based cultural center in Grand Bay, and a push to extend pioneer status to farmers and fisherfolks, who he claims have been unfairly treated by the DLP despite their decades-old loyalty.
The would-be parliamentary representative who claims to be more attuned to the needs of Grandbarians, during his official launch at Grand Bay on Sunday said, “I come to burst the chain of bondage in Grand Bay. I am here to save Grand Bay. We have too many people overseas, they want to come down and open businesses for young people to work and they cannot and that hurting me. To much people have to go down on their knees and cry to Skerrit.”
Gabriel expressed full confidence in his chances of winning at the poll.
“I dropped out of school to chase manicou and then I turn to a bus driver conductor. From conductor, I go to bus driver and from bus driver I’m going to be a Parlrep to serve my constituency,” the independent candidate declared.
Gabriel’s candidacy was endorsed by several individuals, one of whom was Dominica-born attorney Gabriel Christian who is based in the United States of America.
“I endorse tonight, Julius Gabriel, a young man from Grand Bay who does not depend on handouts. He does not depend on bribes to make a living, he earns his honest living by driving his bus and serving his community. Julius Gabriel is the David that will take down Goliath,” Christian proclaimed.
He said the once “liberated” Grand Bay can only return to such stature by removing the incumbent government and pledged, with the help of Dominicans abroad like himself, to form a Grand Bay community development corporation, an organization that will allow constituents to come together to achieve several things around the constituency, if the DLP is defeated.
Other development proposals for the constituency under Gabriel’s stewardship include an institute of plant medicine and construction engineering in Grand Bay.
“In that focus on industry, we will also create in Grand Bay, a light industry…so that light industry in Grand Bay is to create textile, printed t-shirts and others, handcrafts, shoes and also automotive parts.”
Former DLP Press Secretary Sean Douglas also spoke at the launch and provided a solid endorsement of Gabriel’s candidacy.
Douglas pointed out that the constituency now faces the possibility for the first time since 1961, of not having a Grandbarian as their sitting parliamentary representative.
He heavily criticized the DLP candidate’s eligibility in the race as according to him, “it is an insult to the people of Grand Bay and those gone, for the Roosevelt Skerrit government to impose Vince Henderson on you.”
Douglas continued, “It is a clear demonstration of the utter contempt that Roosevelt Skerrit has for you the people of Grand Bay. Pierre Charles built a political machine in Grand bay, so is skerrit saying now that from this political machinery, he cannot find one person who can step forward and represent the people of Grand bay in parliament?”
Much has been made by non supporters of Gabriel of the bus driver’s limited education but Douglas argues that while education is important, traits such as character, honesty and integrity are more necessary attributes of a good politicians than academic qualification.
“A vote for Handbag is a vote for Grand Bay. Vince Henderson is Skerrit’s choice, he is not yours,” Douglas, who hails from one of Dominica’s most prominent families, contended.
Meanwhile, DLP hopeful for the Grand Bay constituency by-election Dr. Henderson has identified a cultural revival as one of his major development objectives in the Grand Bay constituency if he is elected to serve as parliamentary representative.
His comments came at an event dubbed “Youth Link Up” in Grand Bay last week where he told attendees that the constituency needs to regain the title of the cultural capital of Dominica.
“Grand Bay has always been known as the cultural capital of Dominica and we need to reclaim that. We need to ensure that at a minimum, we must recognize those who have contributed to making Grand Bay the cultural capital that it is,” Henderson said. “We must embrace them and we must take every opportunity to memorialize them so that they will be known for generations to come.”
Dr. Henderson also said that focus will be placed on the continued development of Ma Toutou’s Park and other sites in Grand Bay as he is hoping to increase the tourism sector in the southern communities.
“We need to ensure that we develop the tourism sector in Grand Bay and one of the things we must do, is to see how we can develop sites and services. For example, the Geneva river, in Layou, they have river tubing and that is something we can seriously pursue here to grow…and these projects will generate revenue for the Grand Bay constituency,” he explained.
The former government minister and diplomat further revealed that he and the parliamentary representative for the Petite Savanne constituency, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, are jointly pursuing plans for a fisheries complex in the south.
He said the establishment will not only facilitate fisherfolks but can be used as another port of entry, thereby involving the yachting sector in the south of the island.
The DLP hopeful encouraged the youths to take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them while assuring National Employment Programme (NEP) workers that efforts are being made to secure permanent employment on their behalf.
He further averred that a location must be identified in Grand Bay to honour heroes, the people who have made great contributions, “that we should at least let the world know what Grand Bay has produced.”