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Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison was officially elected leader of the United People’s (UP)

SIMPSON BAY–Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison was officially elected leader of the United People’s (UP) party at a party congress held at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina on Saturday. MP Dr. Luc Mercelina was elected the party’s deputy leader. A new party board was also voted in for the next two years.

Long-time party president Silvia Meyers was again appointed as President of the Board. She will be joined on the board by Gina Illidge, Claudia Lista, Michael Granger and Alfred Harley. The positions on the board will be determined at the next board meeting, said UP in a press release.

In his address, Brison told the gathering that St. Maarten needs an evolution of politics. “It has to evolve where we are not afraid to work with each other in the benefit of the people and where the level of governing continues to elevate,” he said.

Referring to the new members of UP, Brison said, “What I see before us is the new tide of politics, but on the foundation built by Theo Heyliger and the stalwarts of the UP party.”

He spoke about the bond he and Heyliger has cultivated over the years – from when Brison was an intern in Heyliger’s office when the latter was Commissioner of Tourism, to later working together as MPs. He said he immediately knew that he wanted to “be like Theo” after spending time with Heyliger as a teenager.

“I respect Theo Heyliger immensely and I am grateful and honoured that he sees in me similar passion, vision and ability to lead,” said Brison.

Brison said the UP represents what St. Maarten wants. He also said the commitment of all candidates will be anchored in their love for their country.

“We will have confidence in our nation’s ability to govern itself autonomously, we will champion true justice for all citizens, we will unleash the true economic potential of our country and, most importantly, we will show compassion and empathy for our fellow St. Maarteners,” he said.

Mercelina said the party’s ideology is based on “unity and inclusiveness, integrity, respect, [and – Ed.] representation of our core values, norms, morals and ethics, open communication and open approach.”

Referring to the party’s “Stand UP” slogan, he asked all present to commit to “standing up” for “the reconstruction of the airport, the construction of the new hospital, the construction of social and affordable houses and facilitating roof repairs, the construction of a new prison where human rights are respected, for the cleaning-up of the island, to combat poverty, [and] for more autonomy for our country.”

Brison told the party’s candidates to view the upcoming snap election on January 9, 2020, as a sprint. “We are doing this because we love our country and its people, and we believe St. Maarten deserves better. We will run this campaign as a team and, should the people of St. Maarten afford us the privilege of governing, we will forge a bright future for our home that includes everyone and leaves no one behind,” he said.

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