My fellow St. Maarteners, with all of the rumors and innuendo circulating, I want to inform you formally on a decision that I have made and some of the reasoning behind it. On Tuesday afternoon, I informed Honorable Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams that I will be taking up my seat in Parliament instead of serving as Minister and serve the people of St. Maarten through this forum. In this regard, I believe an explanation is warranted to the people of St. Maarten – those who voted for and supported me, to my fellow DP candidates and their supporters and voters, to our current coalition partners their voters and supporters as well and finally and most importantly to the people of St. Maarten whether they voted or not. The latter is critical as I was elected to represent all the people of Country St. Maarten.
My decision to go into Parliament is a complicated one and a surprising one for many, just as it was for me. It was not a choice I thought I would be making at any time during the election but as you well know, the dynamics of our governmental system can be fairly volatile. Those who are appointed and those of us who are elected and willing to sit in the executive seats understand the risk associated with becoming a minister. Knowing that you are the one to execute the coalition’s governing program requires sharing your input and vision for St. Maarten.
When my input, proposals and vision were not being supported by some in my own party – it became clear that I had no other choice than to go into parliament to protect the health, social and labor reform that I started and that St. Maarten needs to continue. Importantly, the counterpart policy is a principle that I was not willing to compromise on as it sought to protect the interests of our nationals who often want to return home only to be told they do not have enough experience and are even sometimes told they have too much experience and the company cannot afford to pay them all this while companies still want foreign work permits for the same position.
The decision I have taken was not one made based on emotions but rather was one that demanded much in terms of reflection. As you know, my story with the Democratic Party goes back many years, and began at the feet of my family, my aunt Millicent and my uncle Leroy de Weever. I grew up within the party and when given the opportunity to serve the people of St. Maarten, I embraced the opportunity to do so as your Minister of Public Health Social Development & Labor. As a loyal party member, I served through 3 1/2 tumultuous years, towing the party line through many challenges yet always trying to be even keeled and committed to influencing positive change.
On July 11 – postulation day I decided to run as a New Democrat but in a show of commitment and gratitude to the party, I ran as a DP candidate despite the many rumors and proposals associated with me running with other parties. After six weeks of campaigning, working hard with the other DP candidates and humbly asking the population to vote for me – I asked the voters to “cast a vote for me not against another person or party.” As history shows, after the election results came in – three parties met to form a coalition.
It was also clear that the voters wanted a change and have largely embraced young politicians to represent them to lead our country St. Maarten forward. That said, it is unfortunate that many within the political apparatus are unwilling or unable to allow for change and new leadership but rather are more concerned with the status quo and special interests. Self-serving interests cannot advance the needs of St. Maarten and its people.
As an appointed minister I worked hard for you. It was a level of commitment that I am extremely proud of and I asked for your vote based on that body of work. Throughout those 3 1/2 years and three coalitions I continued to serve your interests, consistently striving and finding the best environment in which I can do my job to the best of my ability and positively influence the ministry to work smarter and provide a better service to you, the people. As an elected representative, I now find that it is in the best interest of the people that I take a Parliamentary position, where I am guaranteed the opportunity to represent you and your interests for the next four years. I am looking forward as a Member of Parliament to continue helping to shape and reform government in a manner that makes all of our citizens proud. This commitment on my part has not changed.
I ask that you keep an open mind and let my work determine my contribution to our country. I ask you to stay the course with me, stay calm, keep the faith, and we will all weather this storm together. God Bless St. Maarten.