All candidates for the North Abaco District and Central/South Abaco district have now been ratified for the three major parties: Progressive Liberal Party, Free National Movement and the Democratic National Alliance.
Barring the emergence of a new party, or someone running Independent, your choices for 2017 in Abaco are:
-Renardo Curry (PLP)
-Darren Henfield (FNM)
-Claire Basden (DNA)
-Eva Bain (PLP)
-James Albury (FNM)
-Ruth Flowers (DNA)
The Abaconian has reached out to all candidates with an initial questionnaire to help you, the voters, become more familiar with them. The questions posed were:
- Introduce Yourself.
- What lead you to offer yourself in politics for this constituency?
- Why did you choose to align with the party you are running for?
- What are three issues that you feel are important to Abaco and how would you/your party address them?
- What is one unique characteristic/skill/talent that you bring to the table?
We ask you, readers, to reach out to The Abaconian via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or via our Facebook page to submit questions you would like your candidates to answer in future editions of “In Their Own Words.”
This issue we highlight the North Abaco candidates. The Feb 15 issue will see the same questions answered by the South Abaco candidates.
The Abaconian encourages its readers to know where your candidates and their parties stand, as well as encourage you to register to vote.
Renardo Curry – PLP
My name is Renardo J.B Curry, the second son of the late Mizpah Mcbride-Curry and Lucian Michael Curry of Murphy Town, Abaco. I grew up in Murphy Town during my Primary school years attending The Marsh Harbour Primary School.
In 1982 my parents, two sisters and brother moved to Grand Bahama Island where I attended the Grand Bahama Catholic High School and graduated in 1992. I later attended Palm Beach community College in West Palm Beach Florida for two years but had to return home due to my family’s financial difficulties at the time.
However, I was successful in obtaining an academic scholarship to complete the Associates Degree in Accounts Management at Success Training College in Nassau, Bahamas. My quest to complete my education has been a grueling one as I continue to work full time and school part-time as I’ve done for many years. Previously, In pursuit of my Bachelor’s degree I was successful in being awarded a part-time scholarship from Abaco Pathfinders which facilitated my attendance to Nova Southeastern University, Everest University and Walden University of which I would have earned University credits towards my Bachelors.
Currently, my determination has led me to continue my long educational journey to complete this degree with an acceleration to the Masters degree through Kaplan University. Through my work experience, I’ve achieved extensive skills in the hotel and marine industries where I worked in Management for over 12 years.
My passion for entrepreneurship has led me to open a number of businesses in the restaurant, marine and construction fields. In addition, I’ve served on the Murphy Town Local Government Committee as Chairman and as a Central Abaco district Council Member. I am currently involved in church Ministry at Bethany Gospel Chapel where I serve as a Minister and Deacon.
I have been blessed with nine years of marriage to my wife Temeka (nee Cooper) Curry. We have three beautiful daughters: Reniah, Reniqua and Temeisha
Why Offer Yourself?
I developed a passion from an early age to help people. Growing up in a Christian home along with my siblings and having to assist our mother who was stricken with MS disease has created a heart of caring within me. This later drove me to involve myself in a number of social clubs in my high school and church. I eventually ended up in Local government serving in Abaco which consequently led me to run in the 2012 general election of which I was later successful in the October 15th bi-election. I have put myself forward because I desire to serve my people to make their lives better. As Jesus says “I’ve come not to be served but to serve”.
Why the PLP?
I’ve chosen the Progressive Liberal party because its philosophy has always aligned itself with what I deem the poor man. I’ve always been concerned about social and economic injustice and hoped for a Bahamas void of segregation and racism that existed and have seemingly damaged our country.
I wanted to see a unified Bahamas, one of love and togetherness. In addition, the PLP has proven its worthiness through revelations of its rich history like the creation of the College of the Bahamas, National Insurance Board and the Defense Force just to name a few.
I believe the PLP is the best party presently to continue the growth and development of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
Three Issues for Abaco?
Employment issues are paramount in particular as it relates to our young people. We will continue our program to encourage both FDI and entrepreneurship as a means to create jobs. We also intend to find means of accessing capital for individuals to foster this program.
Another issue is educational offerings as we would have begin to address this concern through providing access to BTVI and hopefully University of the Bahamas in the future among other colleges. We will continue to encourage constituents to further their education as a means of empowerment.
The third issue is the completion of our infrastructure in Abaco like road works, Airports, Sea Ports, Hospital etc. Presently, we are continuing our robust road works program throughout the Island of Abaco. We were successful in completing the Leonard Thompson International Airport but are seeking to upgrade the Treasure Cay airport.
Our North Abaco Sea Port is schedule to be completed sometime in late March. Our Hospital which has been a difficult task to open due mainly to technical and financial difficulties is finally schedule to open by late march. Our infrastructure is vital to both residence and tourist alike.
My ability to work with individuals on all social and business levels regardless of race or social status. This particular skill has proven successful in politics as politics is about taking care of the needs of all the people who comprise our country not the elite few. My Christian principles of fairness, kindness and forbearance has proven useful as I’ve learn to be patient and fair at all times even when dealing with difficult situations. Further, I believe one must be respectful to others if they intend to be respected. These are a few of my characteristics that speaks to who I am.
Darren Henfield – FNM
I am the eldest son of Bishop Clifford and Mother Evelyn Henfield of Dundas Town, Abaco. I was born in Spring City—where my father worked and resided at the time—and raised in Dundas Town, where my immediate family still resides.
I am a graduate of Dundas Town Primary School (1973) and Abaco Central High School (1979). I enlisted in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in 1981 and was commissioned a sub-lieutenant in 1998. I have served in virtually every area of the Force—administrative and operational—but the highlight of my career was a six-month stint in Haiti as a member of the CARICOM Battalion operating under the aegis of the United Nations (Peacekeeping Mission to Haiti in 1995), where we assisted with enabling the first democratically held elections in that country.
I received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of the West Indies in 2009 and was called to The Bahamas Bar as a council and attorney in 2011, following which I served three years as a junior council in the litigation section of the Office of the Attorney-General of The Bahamas. I have also served as the senior associate pastor of Calvary Deliverance Church in New Providence. In 2015, I received a master’s degree in security studies (Combatting Terrorism: Strategy and Planning) from the US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterrey, California, where I was given the Most Outstanding International Student Award for academic performance and community involvement. I retired from the service on 3 January 2017 at the rank of lieutenant commander.
My wife of nearly thirty-two years—Deidre, who is from Sandy Point, Abaco—and I are the parents of three sons and a granddaughter.
Why Offer Yourself?
In a nutshell, engaging in politics is my way of continuing service to my country and its people. More specifically, it’s my view that North Abaco has had exceptionally poor representation in the past nearly five-years and we deserve better.
It took almost four-years to open the airport in Marsh Harbour—built by the FNM—and the mini-hospital—also built by the FNM—is yet to be opened, while Abaconians are forced to seek tertiary level healthcare in New Providence, Grand Bahama or Florida. Among other things, our roads—built under the 1992 FNM Administration—are poorly lit and continue to fall in to a state of disrepair.
Our public docks are just short of disgraceful. Many workers, entrepreneurs, civil servants and others are being disenfranchised without meaningful recourse. The people of North Abaco are in desperate need of meaningful political representation. Moreover, we have been forced to undergo no less than four downgrades by international financial agencies, as corruption runs rampant in government ministries like Road Traffic, Social Services and God knows where else.
It’s the people’s time and we need a change to arrest the current downward course of our island and country.
Why the FNM
The FNM is the only proven alternative to PLP governance in this country. Hence, the choice of party for me was patently clear. Our party is the party of accountability, transparency and productivity. Everywhere we look around Abaco—and the country, for that matter—it becomes even more obvious as to why the FNM is my choice and will once again be the choice of Bahamians after the next general elections.
The roadworks, infrastructural developments to our port facility, the airport and the mini-hospital, yet to be opened, are but a few examples of why the FNM is the better choice for Abaconians.
Additionally, the party is retooling and refashioning itself by embracing quite a number of newcomers to politics that are qualified, both professionally and experientially, to meet the challenges ahead. I am proud to be counted among them, because I know that we can make a difference.
Three Issues for Abaco?
The leadership of the FNM is focused on building the lives of Bahamians. In fact, we’ve concluded that “It’s the people’s time.”
Apart from continuing on the infrastructural works commenced or completed under the last FNM administration, namely shoring-up the eroding shorelines along the low lying northern coastlines of North Abaco, among other things, an FNM government will focus on making education accessible to our children, enable land ownership for our people and encourage entrepreneurship.
We have committed to easing the access of education at the tertiary level for all qualified Bahamians by underwriting the costs thereof and providing suitable living accommodations for family island students.
Doing business for Bahamians is just too hard. An FNM administration will ease the way for Bahamians with good viable business ideas to engage in business without the burdens of onerous government interventions and prohibitive taxation.
An FNM government will make available crown grants to qualified Bahamians who meet the requirements for the same. The empowerment realized through land ownership is incomparable.
Nearly thirty-six years in the nation’s military have honed my skills as a leader and shaped my worldview on the importance of personal and collective responsibility.
So, strong leadership, integrity, dedication and commitment to the cause of service are what I bring with me into this political arena.
When given the opportunity, I will represent the needs of North Abaco as effectively as humanly possible because it’s personal for me. It’s where I was reared and where my relatives and friends live.
I am an advocate. I believe in building consensus. And, most of all, I am a team player who will do what’s best for the majority of Abaconians.
Lastly, I am a Christian who seeks to walk righteously before God. As such, I am constrained to act righteously.
Claire Basden – DNA
As a young citizen of the Bahamas I find myself; Claire Basden to be an aggressive, forward thinking individual. I was born July 27th, 1987 in Freeport, Grand Bahama to Keith (deceased) and Deborah Basden. My family and I lived in Freeport until I turned two and then we moved to Abaco where I grew to call home. I am the fourth of five beautiful young ladies that were also born to Keith and Deborah; Carol, Christina, Cinquetta, Claire and Chante in that order.
My sisters and I were raised in the settlement of Dundas Town, Bootles Drive. I went to Marsh Harbor Primary School for my Elementary education after graduating Primary School I then transition to Abaco Central High, however, was moved to Forest Heights Academy in the eighth grade where I completed my High School Education in 2004 with honors. It was at Forest Heights that I was able to be a part of the Debate Team and the Drama Club.
I worked at The Abaco Club on Winding Bay for a year before I was granted a full scholarship to study abroad. It was in 2005 that I began my tertiary studies at The University of Tampa in Tampa Florida. I always had a heart for people as well as serving my community therefore it was in my junior year at the University of Tampa that I joined the Sigma Nu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. In 2009 I graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Finance and Economics. Though I was offered a paid internship with Price Waterhouse Coopers; a global finance and accounting firm, I chose to return home to the Bahamas to contribute to the up building of my country.
I returned home and was employed at The Abaco Club on Winding bay as a Staff Accountant for six years before venturing into creating my own brand in 2013 when Your Finance International was birthed. Your Finance International is an Accounting/ consulting firm that caters to small and medium sized businesses. I am also a lover of coffee and therefore in 2015 I went into a Partnership to open Bliss Coffee House.
I am a single mother to my pride and joy Kaleya and she makes this step worth fighting for. I am also engaged to her father Kansi Nicolas whom I love and adore as well as respect for supporting me during this time.
Why Offer Yourself?
I truly feel this is a move of God in my life at this time. I say that because in 2012 when I had my daughter I said a prayer to God telling him that he has 5 years to put me in a position to help people. At the time I meant a financial position to help people which was why I was so aggressive in my investments and I was willing to take risks.
My daughter turned 4 on the 26th of September last year and I got a call from the DNA on the 2 of October concerning my candidacy for North Abaco. It was at this point I realized that 2017 was the 5th year of the timeline that I gave to God. Basically anyone who knows Claire personally knows that I have a heart for people and I wish above all that they succeed in life. Politics was not was not something that I had planned, however, I do recall complaining and stating that we need change in our country and therefore like I said in my acceptance speech that in order for change to come, we then must be the change that we want to see.
Why the DNA?
The DNA is the only party that I feel has a plan to take this country to the next level. I agree with the DNA’s platforms and plans to ensure accountability and fiscal responsibility which is exactly what our country needs at this point. They have policies that are attainable and they appeal to forward thinking individuals such as myself.
I also respect the leadership of the DNA because they are completely down to earth, they listen to the concerns as well as they know many of the issues we as Bahamians face and like myself they have a heart for the Bahamian people.
Three Issues for Abaco?
Three issues that are important to Abaco are-
Problem: Currently our Mini hospital remains unopened after four and a half years and the clinic that we currently have is either understaffed or under equipped. Most Bahamians cannot afford proper health care as well as having to be flown out to Nassau to have proper health care is extremely taxing on us as most people cannot afford to come up with 7,000 plus dollars in case of emergencies. As Abaco is the second largest city in the Bahamas (based on our contributions to the Public Treasury) we in the DNA think it is time for Abaco to be treated as such.
Solution: The DNA plans to source proper funding for NHI by implementing a Sovereign Wealth fund wherein the profits of the exploitation of our resources are accumulated in this investment fund. We also intend to open the Mini Hospital and provide stable medical care for all Abaconians.
Problem: I know that many can agree that there needs to be a system in place for how we handle our waste (dump) centers. Many of the cays have to deal with the weekly burning of waste as well as the stench from it. Granted there are more environment issues that we face however, we will consider this one for now.
Solution: The DNA plans to implement within the 100 days of being in office a fully functional waste to energy program. With a state of the art facility this will bring to end the compounded destruction that these dump sites has experienced over the years. This implementation is a part of our Bahamas Clean energy proposal which also includes: Convert power generation at Clifton Pier to General Electric LM600 Aero derivative Gas turbines within 3 months; Commit to a target of 40% renewable power by 2027, Legalization of grid tie solar system for every Bahamian home and business, Build out and initiate international bi directional HVDC submarine connector cable with the United States to purchase power directly from Florida.
Youth Empowerment and Development Programs
There are not enough after school programs in North Abaco for young people to get involved with. When I was growing up there was Girls Scouts, Pilot Club etc.
We need more programs that can help prepare young people for the shock of life. This can include mentorship programs for young girls and boys wherein they are groomed for the career of their choice, adopt a big brother program that involves the participation of the churches (because contrary to popular opinion; we are our brothers keeper), sporting programs which includes tournaments, coaching to provide opportunities for scholarships at tertiary levels as well as various community service programs. All of this will help to shape and mold young individuals to play their part in taking our country forward.
One unique characteristic that I am proud of, and can bring to the table is my ability to bring people together and motivate them to defy all odds that are against them by taking a positive outlook to a negative situation. I find myself to be very optimistic and I can almost always see the good in a bad situation and help other to see the same.