Postulation Day becomes a party after slow start

POSTED: 07/13/14 9:31 PM

St. Maarten /By Hilbert Haar  – Postulation Day has at times been a rowdy affair with hundreds of supporters accompanying the party of their choice to the government Administration Building. Somehow, this time around things were different, more subdued, as if politics has left the realm of carnival and entered a more mature phase of its existence.

This was the impression yesterday morning, when the United People party made its entrance at 9 a.m. Sure, the candidates were there, the party leader was there, the party’s president was there and a handful of supporters – all clad in green – were there. But the atmosphere was not as boisterous as it was four years ago – and we’re talking here about the last elections for the parliament of the Netherlands Antilles in January 2010. All this changed though in the afternoon, when Frans Richardson, Sarah Wescot-Williams and William Marlin presented the candidates for their lists to the voting bureau. After a slow start, the day became a party after all.

Still, the UP has shown that it is on the ball. During the night before Postulation Day the party had crews on the road to erect billboards along the Pondfill of its candidates. One was erected near the traffic lights opposite the Beach Plaza casino. One remarkable billboard on the Pondfill makes a clear statement about one UP-plan for the next governing period: We Ready for the New Medical Center, it reads with an artist’s impression of a building that may never see the light of day.

Not everybody is happy with the brazen approach of Heyliger’s green squad. There have been numerous complaints about the fact that the party held an event on Tuesday to reveal its candidates and there have also been complaints about the fact that the party erected its billboards already in the night before Postulation Day. So far, there have been no repercussions.

At the government Administration Building, the UP kicked of Postulation Day at 9 a.m. The party was the first customer for the central voting bureau chaired by attorney Jason Rogers.
Joe Richardson handed in the UP list of candidates and after the central voting bureau found everything in order, it noted the time the list was handed in as 9.05 a.m.
UP candidates spearheaded by party leader Theo Heyliger, president Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce and a limited number of supporters were present at the Government Administration Building and they let their voices roar when Joe Richardson waved the confirmation form of the party’s registration to them.
Shortly after the UP left the building, Jacinto Mock presented his one-man list for his Social Reform Party. It was duly registered at 9.17.
Afterwards, Mock said that it had been difficult to find suitable candidates for his party and that he therefore had decided to go it alone. Asked about his candidacy for the National Alliance four years ago (when he won just 13 votes) and his reason to leave that party, the 45-year old Mock mentioned “a lack of communication and cohesion.”
He said that so far, 413 people have signed his list. Like the other five parties that will take part in the elections, Mock’s supporters will have to show up on Monday at the census office to reconfirm their endorsements. Each list needs at least 138 valid signatures.

At 10.15 a.m., the voting bureau’s timekeeper attorney Maarten le Poole registered the candidate-list of OSPP, the One St. Maarten People Party of former Commissioner Lenny Priest. With a sense of humor, Priest offered that “the youngest member of the party” would hand in the list. That turned out to be Emanuel Hanna, who looks more like the grandfather of all politicians.

Hanna, the number 8 candidate on the OSPP-list, told members of the voting bureau that he had felt the need to enter politics for the first time in his life “to make St. Maarten a better place to live in.”

The OSPP-list contains nine names: 1. Lenny Priest, 2. Regina Janga, 3. Denissen Philips, 4. Marie-Lou Conner, 5. Joseph John, 6. Margarita Webster, 7. Frits Leo Richardson, 8. Emanuel Hanna and 9. Party president Lloyd Beaton.

Priest said after Hanna submitted the list that he brings “a wealth of knowledge” into politics. He chided the parties that ruled the country for the past four years: “They had four years and they made a mess of it. Most people will say that they are not better off now than they were four years ago. We are going to make a difference.”

The OSPP will not hold public meetings in the districts, as the UP will do. “We will hold town hall meetings where people have the opportunity to ask questions,” Priest said. “Those public meetings are like carnival.”

All members on the OSPP-list are party-members. Why 9 candidates and not the maximum of 23? Priest “We did not want to accept people, just to fill a list.”

In the afternoon, the central voting bureau first awaited Frans Richardson’s United St. Maarten party. Scheduled to present his list by 2.30 p.m., Richardson arrived late in style, mimicking UP-leader Heyliger’s stunt by arriving sitting on the hardtop of a party-blue Jeep Wrangler, followed by the Roosters Party bus crammed with supporters on the top deck. A group of bikers preceded  the Jeep, revving their engines as if noise matters and bringing memories of Richardson’s plan for a drag racing strip in the Great Salt Pond.

Party president Cecil Nicholas presented the list of candidates at 3 p.m. sharp. US – as the party will appear on the ballot – has fifteen candidates. After party leader Frans Richardson Leona Marlin-Romeo is the number 2 candidate. A surprising number 4 on the list is environmentalist Rueben Thompson, who pulled out of the race with his Citizens for Positive Change on Thursday because he was unable to put a satisfactory list of candidates together.

Richardson promised to send a complete candidate-list, but we did not receive it yesterday and it was not published on the party’s Facebook-page either.

Why only fifteen candidates? Richardson: “There are only fifteen seats. I am proud of the support the party has received and I believe we will be victorious. This is about the people who are suffering, about the youth, and unemployment. We do not want to give lip service to our people. Without true employment it makes no sense to have all these projects like bridges and hospitals.”

Richardson said that the party’s manifesto will be ready by July 15 and that the party will hold six or seven public meetings before the elections. “If you vote for us, we will help you,” he said as if speaking to the electorate.

After the United St. Maarten Party, the Democratic Party arrived at the Government Administration Building. The parade was led by PT-officer Mike Ferrier driving a red Mini Cooper – a classic car he has had in his possession since 1981. On the roof was a set of oversized horns that loudly announced the arrival of the red parade. “Let’s get it right, vote smart” the text on the cute little vehicle read. Party leader Sarah Wescot-Williams and supporters followed clad in red DP-tee shirts, sporting red umbrellas and party flags.

Wescot-Williams, dressed in a black DP-shirt under a bright red jacket, presented het list of candidates at exactly 3.20 p.m. to the central voting bureau. The Democratic Party commemorates its 60th anniversary this year.

The party-list contains 19 names. Notably absent is Petrus Leroy de Weever, but now his cousin Cornelius de Weever is the number two on the list after Wescot-Williams. Roy Marlin is the number 3, followed by Emil Lee, Michael Ferrier, party president Hasani Ellis and Perry Geerlings.

The rest of the list: 8. Richelda Rodriguez-Emmanuel, 9. Sidharth Bijlani, 10. Gerard Richardson, 11. Armand Meda, 12. Hubert Pantophlet, 13. Carmen Hodge-Smith, 14. Mulrose Toulon, 15. Patricia Flanders, 16. Octavio Ogando Garcia, 17. Warno Kartokromo, 18. Joyce Varlack and 19. Ysmael Faustin. The average age of the candidates is 50. Patricia Flanders (70) is the oldest, Ysmael Faustin (22) the youngest. Prime Minister Wescot-Williams is 58.

After delivering the list, the DP continued its postulation party at its headquarters on the Pondfill, next to the SHTA-office, where party members distributed tee shirts, baseball caps and stickers to passing motorists.

The last party to present its list was the National Alliance. Party leader William Marlin arrived shortly after 3.30 p.m. dressed in the customary white NA-tee shirt and white pants, accompanied by his party president Silveria Jacobs, MP George Pantophlet and Henrietta Doran-York.

The chairman of the central voting bureau, Jason Rogers, had to ask for the door to be closed because while the NA presented its full list of 23 candidates, a boisterous parade from the UP-party turned up in front of the Government Administration Building with a colorful drum band led by Urmain Dormoy. Jacobs presented the NA-list at 3.34 p.m.

A surprise on the National Alliance list is broadcast-journalist Cedric Peterson. He is the number 11 candidate.

The full list looks like this: 1. William Marlin, 2. George Pantophlet, 3. Silveria Jacobs, 4. Louie Laveist, 5. Hyacinth Richardson, 6. Rodolphe Samuel, 7, Henrietta Doran-York, 8. Christopher Emmanuel, 9. Jeffrey Richardson, 10. Romeo Pantophlet, 11. Cedric Peterson, 12. Fernando York van Heyningen, 13. Dorothy Richardson, 14. Elvis Flanders, 15. Henry Eusebius, 16. Narda de Windt, 17. Leroy la Paix, 18. Sau Ying Steeman-Yau, 19. Franklin Patrick, 20. Ameera Groeneveldt, 21. Henry Salomons, 22. Arthur Lugisse, 23. Herbert Martina.


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