Reader’s Opinion on the elections: Refreshing the memory

POSTED: 08/18/14 5:09 PM

Dear Editor,

In time of elections, it is always good to refresh the memory of the citizens of this island and compare the performance of politicians when the survivability of this island was at stake.

Such a time for me was in September 1995, when Hurricane Luis literally devastated this island. The majority of homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged. The infrastructure was a complete mess. There was no electricity or running water. Very few people believed that St. Maarten would make a comeback.

A coalition formed by the Democratic Party and SAPP governed the island at the time. The Executive Council consisted of Sarah Wescot-Williams and Theodore Heyliger  from the Democratic Party, Julian Rollocks from the SAPP and Elton Jones, who was from Democratic Party but turned independent commissioner and last but not least Dennis Richardson as Lt. Governor.

It didn’t take too long before a member of the Democratic Party realized that the commissioners could not handle the situation and he insisted that the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance, the forerunner of the National Alliance, who was in opposition at the time, be brought on board and so said so done.

The Democratic Party parted ways with Julian Rollocks and Elton Jones and joined the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance to form a new government. Sarah and Theo remained as commissioners in this new government and the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance appointed William Marlin, the late Vance James Jr. and the late Edgar Lynch as commissioners. And what a difference these three commissioners of the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance made.

It was said then that Commissioner Theodore Heyliger went missing in action and that his portfolio was taken over by the Lt. Governor. With the financial assistance of the Dutch government and the good work of the Lt. Governor and the three St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance commissioners, the island of St. Maarten saw the light and was able to repair the infrastructure and gradually take care of the needs of the people.

Commissioner William Marlin was the catalyst in bringing emergency homes to the island to shelter those whose homes were destroyed and had no other alternative. These homes were placed in different districts on the island. Up until today, these structures serve as permanent homes for many families in the Keys, Sucker Garden, Union Farm, Reward, and Cole Bay.

This little history is good for the voters to know, so that when they go to the voting booth to cast their vote, they will vote for a leader who is capable of leading under difficult circumstances. People again, forewarned is forearmed.

 

Todd Peterson

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