There’s an interesting race set to take place in Constituency 30 Southampton East Central, where the seat currently held by One Bermuda Alliance MP Leah Scott, could be reclaimed by the Progressive Labour Party.
Ms Scott, a political newcomer in 2012, defeated PLP candidate Stephen Todd in the last General Election with 558 votes to Todd’s 363, or 60.63% of the vote. But more than 600 voters registered in C30 did not vote in that constituency the last time Bermudians went to the polls, for the seat previously held by the PLP.
Prior to 2012, the incumbent was PLP MP Zane DeSilva, who defeated United Bermuda Party MP David Dodwell in 2007. Mr DeSilva secured 569 votes to the 521 ballots cast for Mr Dodwell, or 52.2% of the vote.
The former UBP MP unseated the PLP’s Raymond Tannock in the 2003 General Election. Historically, in recent years, the seat in Southampton East Central has changed hands repeatedly.
This time around the OBA incumbent will go up against Quinton Butterfield, who has re-entered the political arena for the first time in more than 20 years, after he ran unsuccessfully under the PLP banner in 1998.
The owner of Central Diagnostics Medical Laboratory, Mr Butterfield has also served on the Board of Education as Deputy Chairman of the Bermuda College Board and as a member of the Air Operations Board.
When unveiled as the PLP contender in Southampton East Central last month, he noted that more than 600 registered voters in C30 failed to cast ballots in 2012 and urged area residents to make their voices heard.
What those voices have heard of from the current MP in C30 since she was elected nearly five years ago, will be a major deciding factor when the voters in Southampton East Central go the polls next week.
The OBA MP made international news headlines, when she walked out of Magistrates’ Court with an absolute discharge for “trespassing when she to put an end to her love triangle” last year.
The report circulated like wildfire when it was covered locally and by Caribbean 360, the largest online news outlet for the West Indies, based in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Ms Scott apologized for her actions when she pleaded guilty before Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo in August last year. The incident occurred in January 2016 as result of a “long-lasting love triangle” involving Ms Scott, the man she was involved with and his partner, who he lives with.
In her defence, lawyer Mark Pettingill told the court that his client entered the premises, without an invitation to do so, to bow out of the relationship. Magistrate Tokunbo took into account the MP’s guilty plea, her clean record and the fact that the “severity of the case was at the low end” of the scale, before granting an absolute discharge for the defendant.
After her initial court appearance when she denied the charge, an OBA spokesman said: “MP Leah Scott has kept the party leader informed about this matter. It is a private concern before the courts and thus we have no further comment.”
But as a public figure, paid out of the public purse, the entire fiasco was not a private affair due to her own actions. And it did not sit well with Bermuda’s electorate, especially with women in particular.
At last check, the number of female voters outnumber males registered. This year, the Parliamentary Register lists 24,567 women and 22,097 men. That’s 2,470 more females than males registered to vote this year.
How female voters in Southampton East Central will vote next Tuesday remains to be seen. But it’s no secret that most women in relationships, whether or not they’re married, do not take kindly to “love triangles” or lover’s trysts – period!
And then there’s the backlash that erupted on social media in February 2015, accusing Ms Scott of plagiarism in a Letter to the Editor, published in the daily newspaper. In hindsight, she said “while it is alleged that I have directly plagiarized”, she conceded that she made an “error in submitting the letter without references” and that it “was inadvertent and unintentional”. “I will never win the court of public opinion on this matter, and I am not going to try to. I can only humble myself and apologise to all who I have offended,” she said.
Ms Scott also broke ranks with her party colleagues over the controversial Pathways to Status Bill and the subsequent protests outside the House of Assembly in June 2015.
Speaking on the floor of the House, she appealed to her parliamentary colleagues “to listen to what the people are saying”. “We need to stop saying that we want to collaborate and actually do it,” she said. She also agreed with Opposition MP Walton Brown on “the need for immigration reform”.
It’s something that he has been calling for a very long time. We have seen evidence of amending legislation, piecemeal, by the whole PRC loophole and people being granted status, which was an unintended consequence. I think it is something that we actually do have to work together on both sides of the aisle, because it’s so important. It affects all of Bermuda. It is a piece of legislation that people are very passionate about, because it is … Bermudians feel that their birthrights are being taken from them. They feel that their rights are being taken from them and they’re unhappy. We need to listen to their voices and we need to listen to what they’re saying, she added.
Ironically, two years later, there’s no mention of the Pathways to Status Bill in the OBA’s platform – something else the voters in Bermuda, including the voters in C30 will remember when they mark their ‘X’ on their ballots next Tuesday.
And with more than 3,000 voters registered to vote than there were in 2012, if the 600-plus voters who didn’t vote in C30 in the last General Election turn out in full-force, Quinton Butterfield looks set to reclaim the seat for the PLP in Southampton East Central.