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OPINION: What to vote for this election, 8 issues that matter

By Kevin Malone, Contributor

If the last few months are any indication of what to expect this election season, then buckle up.

As a BVIslander living abroad, I feel the endless barrage of dramatic events that have hijacked the recent headlines have drowned out the critical issues that should matter to all of us.

In the heat of battle, original purpose often gets replaced with the desire to win. So at this critical moment in BVI history, the question is less about who to vote for, but why to vote for them.

Crime

Vote for the candidate/party who understands that a strategy for reducing crime is more than just an increase in police presence and security cameras. It is an understanding that it must be dealt with from the standpoint of economic, social and education policy. History and statistics have shown that increases in crime often coincide with decreased economic opportunity. This has ramifications that play out via crime, unemployment, government assistance and subsidization.

Vote for the candidate/party who understands that education leads to positive youth outcomes. To create a new generation of human capital with the education, knowledge and skills to lead the BVI requires access to high-quality early-childhood education, promotion of social-emotional skill development, and a secondary school curriculum responsive to the needs of the global economy. By empowering our youth, we can help head off the path of crime before it starts.

Vote for the candidate/party who knows that understanding issues that matter to our youth are necessary to craft policies that address existing problems. Engaging directly with at-risk youth and having meaningful dialogue will help us better understand their needs and discover their untapped strengths and potential.

Additionally, we need to recognize that a desire for independence, and often rebellion, is a natural part of adolescence. We must support youth in making the right choices and help them use their voices to promote social good. To give up on the youth is to give up on the future, and thus your country.

Debt

Vote for the candidate/party who speaks honestly about the country’s challenges and understands shared sacrifice is needed to solve them. The BVI is going to experience a period of increased debt due to the financial turmoil caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, coupled with previous outstanding financial liabilities and decreased financial services revenue caused by stringent international policies.

This issue should not be minimized and the subsequent discussion cannot be ignored. It must be a part of any political platform so as to bring awareness to the people about the difficult decision that will have to be made.

Solving this issue will mean serious discussions will be needed regarding the government increasing taxes in certain areas and decreasing spending in other areas The debate, which will not be popular, should include an engaged electorate and should be centred around which areas to target and the length of time for which to do so.

BVIslanders abroad

Vote for the candidate/party who recognizes that the BVI’s greatest asset has been, and always will be, its people. As the BVI has progressed, locals have moved abroad to advance amazing careers and gain priceless experience in critical areas. Like myself, we all love the BVI and want to see our country overcome its challenges.

So, what can we do? Are there services and specific expertise that us BVIslanders abroad can provide in critical areas? While there are many specialists globally, only BVIslanders living abroad have a vested interest and, frankly, the personal desire to help this country in a sincere way. With government likely to face limited resources and a need for spending reductions for the foreseeable future, this may be a way for the government to find deeply discounted, or even pro bono services from loyal BVIslanders living abroad who are in a position to do so.

Perception matters

Vote for the candidate/party who understands that perception matters. The very public and outright ugly battles being waged right now in the BVI may well be fodder to those whose goals don’t align with ours. The BVI is clearly going through a transitional period right now, and the checks and balances that have governed the country are no longer adequate.

Thus, the discussion should be around specific policy solutions to make all government activity fully transparent and accessible to the public. The interests of the people should be what leads policy and, to our benefit, the BVI cares about public expenditures more than most societies.

Instead of publicly lobbying very serious and permanently damaging accusations, let’s show outside spectators that we can handle our business in a clear and professional way. Let’s show that we welcome serious challenges with groundbreaking solutions.

For versus against

Vote for the person/party who presents a vision for you to vote for, as opposed to an enemy to vote against. While observation is important, it requires no risk and provides a comfortable place to pass hypothetical judgement. Mistakes are no doubt being made right now in BVI and they must be called out. But then what? Pointing out problems without providing solutions amounts to just complaining. This sets the wrong precedent for those who look to both current and aspiring representatives for leadership.

Define BVI tourism

Vote for the person/party who presents a long-term tourism plan that is bold in vision and clearly communicated. One-off ideas for a specific hotel or a golf course doesn’t amount to a strategy. Anyone project can be done, but without a larger vision and plan, citizens don’t understand why projects are or are not needed.

The BVI needs to decide whether it wants to be a tourism destination that values quality or quantity and provide a long-term plan for either. Ideas such as developing the outer islands as individually themed destinations and focusing on unique activities for certain types of visitors are low hanging fruit areas that have the potential to separate BVI from competing destinations. It also provides a framework for which projects can be discussed within, resulting in the public having a better understanding of the money government spends on large scale projects.

Communication

Vote for the person/party who realizes the historical methods the govt has used to communicate with the public are no longer adequate. The technology era we live in means that information travels instantly and is known by the population within minutes. Lack of a consistent government communication mechanism has resulted in not being able to control the narrative of official government business as well as rumours.

Though the BVI is small, the ruling party should consider holding press conferences 2-3 times a week that shed light into what the government is working on, provide official statements on events affecting the territory and give the people a sense that they are constantly in tune with the government that represents them.

Consistency. What’s changed?

The BVI has elected 4 different governments in the last 5 different election cycles. The ramifications of this have been that there’s been no consistency in terms of vision and strategy. If every 4 years we switch leadership, the subsequent leader will then spend their terms undoing the policies of their predecessors, leaving us almost exactly where we started. Vote for the person/party that who forgoes short-term fixes and focuses on long-term goals. For those candidates who previously lost power and are seeking to regain it, vote for the person/party that acknowledges their past shortcomings and articulates what is different this time.

Conclusion

Last but not least, vote for the person/party that inspires you. The BVI is one of the most beautiful places in the world and holds an important place on the world stage that has been earned though decades of unity. All current leaders and aspiring ones have the BVI’s best interest at heart, and it’s important for everyone to believe that in order to elevate the level of the present conversation.

Politicians have an initial goal of uniting the country, but the nature of political battle makes it almost impossible to do so. Thus, it is up to us BVIslanders both local and abroad to change the conversation to one that addresses the future and forces candidates to provide specific policy visions which address that future. I hope this article is a step towards doing this.

Kevin Malone is a BVIslander residing in the United States. He is a Director, Business Development for a macroeconomic research and data provider that works with Investors and Asset Managers globally.

Copyright 2019 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

21 Comments

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  1. Where's the Vision? says:

    Thanks brother Kevin for your very well thought out and presented Voters Checklist of considerations for making an informed decision during our leaders/government selection process. I recall Bill Moyer, a former presenter, advocate for democracy on PBS, (Public Broadcasting), regularly advocating the idea that the key to Democracy as being:”an informed electorate”. It is factual that voting decisions; especially during the past few elections, have not been made on the basis of what’s best for the country; hence the predicament we find ourselves; even without the experience of the recent hurricanes.
    Under the section of Communication in government where you suggested the need for several weekly press conferences to inform residents of activities, programs accomplishments etc, I’m reminded of the Hon. Mark Brantley, premier of the sister island of Nevis, hosting his weekly (Wednesday evenings) talk show,”On the Mark”, doing exactly as you suggested. The program is for 90 minutes in which he gives an update followed by a Call-in section.
    Hopefully your article will affect a much deeper discussion, understanding and reasoning of the democratic process.
    Best wishes to you in/through the New year. Hopefully you will be inspired to follow up with similar postings.

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  2. Observing says:

    We need persons to lead who truly care for other people. Not persons with sweet mouth and smooth talk. We BVIslanders need to gain knowledge for ourselves and not be duped by the rhetoric

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  3. A man says:

    So I should vote for Myron?

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  4. Exactly what we needed to hear! says:

    This is a very important read for anyone that intends to vote in the upcoming election. The piece is clear and concise and hits the right points. Well done Kevin. Please write another piece that expands on one of the areas highlighted in your article like tourism or debt. The public needs to see some proposal on how things can be changed and improved.

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  5. Albion says:

    Interesting. But not one mention of financial services and the challenges confronting that industry.

    I would be disappointed if none of our political candidates had anything to say about how they proposed to address threats to our most important industry.

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  6. OUT says:

    its always interesting to sit comfortably off island especially in the good ole usa and chat sh..t
    come back down here and deal with the s..t like the rest of us. go find some thing else to do

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    • @Out says:

      But where will the Bro. work when there is an existing culture of “you went away and didn’t stay here and contribute so you deserve nothing” ? The mind set has to change first, hopefully demonstrated through electing individuals who are willing to put country first.

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      • Question to out? says:

        Can one rat eat a bag of rice? A key is made with specific codes (rigids) to open the door, can you solve the riddle? You alone will not change the course of what our BVI will become moving forward. “Inclusiveness is the only solution. “The party who can achieve this milestone will go-on to achieve great outcomes.

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    • @OUT says:

      Life happens in 3 fundamental dimensions:

      PAST – there are memories of the past.
      PRESENT – there is experience of the present.
      Future – and there is imagination of the future.

      Most thoughts come from limited data and most ideas come from the “same recycled data-bin” if the same dialogue is being repeated year after year.

      TODAY is the beginning of a NEW WAY FORWARD.

      THANK YOU Kevin for your contribution. Please do share more of your opinions.

      “Do not curse the winds that bring added knowledge to our shores; instead, bless the breeze that brought-in enlightenment. Growth only comes from expansion.”

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    • Thinking Differently says:

      to out – let’s embrace all the info we can gather to make a more informed decision- with this election- on our way forward; this time around, the least we can do- is lift the “veil” alittle: https://youtu.be/cEXhZ8PwM-Y

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    • Genie says:

      Just saying007…keep bringing the breeze that lift the veil. Thank you Kevin.

    • RealPol says:

      @Out, Mr. Malone should be applauded for his contributing opinion. Nuff people go way and do not look back, have no clue what is happening back in the territory, wonder out loud why the territory is stagnating, compare things to the US, UK, Canada, come back to visit and cannot wait to leave…..etc.

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    • VI VISION 2040 says:

      True intellectuals alway embrace “absolute free speech”- express yourself dear Watson- for there is nothing that can offend those who are “intellectually aware of the world they live in. It comes from living and actually learning from their experiences.

      Just keep in mind, with your personal soul-journ, the world today has become an “all inclusive global process at this stage.” Accept it or not, there are VI visionaries abroad involve “to transform present circumstances for the greater good.” If some still think “it’s im-possible,” within the words still remains- “i’m possible.” Live and learn. If not, you are bound to repeat the lesson.

    • Truly says:

      @Out- is ignorance really bliss?

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  7. Voter says:

    Very well said and it’s for these reasons and more I am supporting the NDP in the upcoming elections. I think Myron and his team are ready and equipped to take the Territory forward when compared to the other candidates and parties. I look forward to the campaigns and debates but so far NDP has the edge when it comes to me and my family’s votes.

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  8. ReX FeRaL says:

    ChecK Immigration. Lots of problems here. Criminal nonbelongers coming into the territory at will.

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  9. E. Leonard says:

    Keeping it real and must read opinion piece. Strong discussion topics for the up coming campaign. The BVI is faced with a myriad of challenges that will require major decisions by the next 13 elected members of the HOA. Need elected members with the knowledge, skill, ability, demonstrated experience …….etc to make the tough but needed decisions.

  10. OUT1 says:

    Its too bad you bloggers have no idea what your talking about, too bad.
    seriously Malone dosen’t have a clue!!!!!!
    ( I bet he out now with his homies at the club)

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  11. Mel says:

    This is why the BVI will die. The health sector is never on the agenda. Increase in tourism means the increase in the amount of chronically ill tourists that would potentially seek healthcare. Healthcare is not only caring for the sick but educating the population about prevention. Prevention is the key. Irma showed us our weaknesses not to expose us but for us to improve and strengthen those weak areas. Health, education, safety, infrastructural defects and financial sustainability. We need candidates that can work with us to fix these issues not sugarcoat them, we need permanent practical solutions.

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