Dr. Samuel (Sammy) Joseph, no stranger to costing elections to political office, having contested on a Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) campaign ticket in September 2014, ran away with the contest on Monday night following the by-election to fill a vacant seat in the Montserrat Legislative Assembly that day.
“The journey to elections 2019 starts now,” said Dr. Samuel Joseph shortly after results showed he’d won the January 30, 2017 by-election.
Dr. Sammy Joseph was selected as the MCAP candidate for the by-election instead of Jermaine Wade who following that left the party saying he was duped all along by the hierarchy who sought and selected Joseph for the by-election.
Seven candidates (https://www.themontserratreporter.com/seven-to-contest-by-election/) only one of whom was a new comer contested the January 30, 2017 by-election which had not happened for 38 years. The candidates were as appear l-r in the collage: Victor James Sr, Jermaine Wade, Winston Ponde, Emile Duberry, Keithroy (DeBear) Morson, Charlesworth Phillip, and the winner, Dr. Samuel Joseph Emile Duberry represented the incumbent government party, Peoples’ Democratic Movement (PDM), the others running as independents with Keithroy (DeBear) Morson being the newcomer having not contested and election before.
The by-election date was announced three months earlier following the formal retirement on November 2, 2016, having made the announcement weeks before to his party supporters and in the Legislative Assembly, of former premier and opposition leader Reuben T. Meade from a seat in the Legislative Assembly after he had served continuously from November, 1991.
All the candidates took mostly or so it appeared to the airwaves, a few rallies, less than five total, perhaps too little voter education, it being a by-election since the nine-candidate system was put in place in 2001, four elections having ensued since then.
By the final count early about 9.20 p.m. on Monday, stark difference in time compared when nine candidates are involved along with a less than 50% voter turn-out – 41.7%, Joseph who took off in the lead once counting began shortly before 8.00 on Monday evening remained there to the end with 679 votes, leading next in line Emile Duberry who got 369. A distant third placed Jermaine Wade received 244 votes. See results tables here, or visit: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/dr-samuel-joseph-wins-montserrat-2017-by-election/
A disappointed Wade reportedly said following the results, “The process of democracy is alive and well and as a result, I congratulate the by-election winner Dr. Samuel Joseph and his team. I give my assurance to you the electorate of my unwavering commitment to representing you at the highest levels. As such I will regroup, refocus, and return in the essence of time even better prepared.”
It was clear evidenced particularly with the low voter turnout, although Joseph received only 42.65% of the good votes cast, that the voters voted for the party which obviously understood the electorate and worked on it, the fact that Joseph won in every division. Following delayed announcement of contesting the by-election, one PDM official admitted at the end of the count that they realised the party began too late to get on the campaign trail.
Some ZJB live coverage panelists Eugene Skerritt, Peter J. White and Herman Francis agreed that party support was an important factor in both Joseph and Duberry garnering the largest number of votes. General feeling by some analysts thought there were lessons to be learnt from the by-election.
DiscoverMNI.com reported Dr. Joseph saying on his win, “I am excited and it’s an overwhelming feeling. People wanted change and a move away from the divisiveness…” that has entered the local political scene, he said on air.
He encouraged other aspiring politicians to choose a cause and work for the good of the people of Montserrat.
Montserrat has a registered voter list of 3866 but only 1611 turned out to vote. The updating of the voters list was a subject of discussion early in the campaign, but it was made clear by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission that the law only allows for this to be done every five years ahead of the general election.