Quinell Francis To Run For Mayor Of St George’s

March 13, 2015

The Town of St. George will see a municipal election take place in May 2015 with voters taking to the polls to fill the position of Mayor and Common Councillors.

Sitting Deputy Mayor Quinell Francis has confirmed her intention to throw her name in the ring for the position of Mayor which is presently held by Garth Rothwell who was sworn in as Mayor in January 2013. The position, which is a three year appointment, was left vacant after Kenneth Bascome stepped down to take a seat in the House of Parliament.

Bernews sat down with Deputy Mayor Francis who explained, “The Town of St. George municipal election is going to be on May 7 from 8.00am to 8.00pm. There will be two races, one for the mayor and then we have eight counselors.

Quinell_Francis

“The businesses will select two Councillors and the residential will select six Councillors. Everybody gets to vote for the Mayor, and it will be held at Penno’s Wharf cruise terminal. So we’re looking for good support from everybody.

“Right now, the businesses are registering and they have to be registered by the end of the month, end of March because this is the first time they’ve been able to vote since the last election, because in 2012 they lost their votes, so this year they get their vote back. The residential, basically if you’re on the resident parliamentary register for the municipality, then you can vote in the election.”

Asked what changes have taken place with the business vote, Ms Francis said, “They’re allowed, I believe, it’s a property vote and also a business vote. They have allowed the businesses to have their say and now what they have actually done is allow the two races in reference to the counselors where you get residential counselors and business counselors.

“It will be divided proportionally according to how many voters there are. Due to St. George’s being less business and more residential, the residential population would have a bigger say in the municipal election.”

In respect of how many people may be running in the mayoral race Ms Francis said, “I’m not sure how many people will be running for the mayor, so you just have to see. Hopefully, they start coming out now.”

Ms Francis has been the Deputy Mayor for the past two years having been appointed in 2013 after joining the corporation team in 2011 as a Common-Councillor. In 2012 she was elected as Aldermen, then in 2013 when Mayor Garth Rothwell won his post, became Deputy Mayor.

Speaking of her decision to run for Mayor, Ms Francis said, “I feel that there needs to be change and the gap needs to be slimmed between the residential vote, the residential population and the business population.

“I think right now we’re so divided that it’s them against us. I say “us” because I am a resident in the town of St. George’s and I think that St. George’s hasn’t been highlighted enough over the past couple of years. We’re the historic town, we’re UNESCO World Heritage Site and there’s just not been enough focus on St. George’s.

“I think I will be able to provide the focus that we need, the attention that we need, and also the promotion of us being a World Heritage Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and even our links to Lyme Regis, because our historic connections are important but we also need to be able to move forward in the times that we are in.”

Concerning possible projects in St. George’s like the Club Med Site, the golf course and the proposed marina, Ms. Francis said, “It will be great to see something built on the hill of the former Club Med Site. Hopefully, we will see something very soon or at least hear something very soon from the government as that’s part of the government, that’s the government’s property so it’s not actually under the corporation’s remit.

“If elected mayor, I will work the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport to ensure that something is built up on that hill or the golf course is reinstated so that it can attract more people into our town.

“The marina, it’s a great opportunity as we know over the years, we have many yachtsmen that come to the town during the season, when they are transitioning down to the south or coming back up from the south, and I think that the marina would be something that would add value to the town, to the businesses, to the residents.

“It sort of gives a buzz when you have more people within your town. Unfortunately, at this time, I can’t say much more because that’s a committee that I’m not on, but like I said if elected, we should be able to move that forward and make sure that there’s something in place prior to America’s Cup 2017,” added Ms. Francis.

“The town cut is another big issue and I think that the people in St. George’s, we need to come together and decide exactly what we want, whether we want a ship or we don’t want a ship. If we want a ship modifications of the town cut will be needed, but the consultation needs to be done with the Bermuda Government, with the cruise liners, and with us as a community to decide exactly how we want to move forward.

“With all these things that could potentially come on board, we also need to look at our infrastructure to ensure that we will be able to handle, our streets, our buildings, our sewage because we don’t want to be left in sort of the old times when we’ve got all these big projects on and the town’s crumbling apart.

“So infrastructure is a main thing as well because it’s been neglected over the years but there is a lot of potential in getting those things up to today’s standards. Under the streets is all galvanized, so there’s probably pipes there from the 1800s.

“As you can see from a project that’s now under way is our restrooms. We’ve now taken that step to modernize the interior. The exterior state has remained the same, but the interior will be modernized and be able to take the flow of visitors that we are used to having.

“Hopefully, we will see more projects coming on board, possibly the paving of the square needs to done, and working with all our stakeholders to make sure that we make St. George’s the best that it can be for our residents, our businesses and our visitors.”

Asked about the corporation’s available budget to operate, the Deputy Mayor said, “Well currently our main source of revenue is the wharfage from the airport. Now with UNESCO World Heritage tax fund, we see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel because that fund is starting to develop so we can see some projects getting underway in the UNESCO Site, World Heritage Site area.

“In reference to revenue, the marina would be a great boost for us. We need to look at things like that, whether or not a cruise ship is viable in our town to be able to provide us with our own stream of revenue. There’s a lot of different areas that we are trying to explore to see how we can actually start creating some private partnerships, people getting more interested in St. George’s as a historic site.

“Last year, we went to visit Williamsburg in Virginia, the Rockefellers, they’ve pumped money into Williamsburg so maybe we can reach out to some of these billionaires that would be interested in assisting St. George’s getting up to the standard that we should be.”

Asked about the fuel tax to assist St. George’s, Ms Francis said, “The year would end at March 31st and currently, we have received approximately $300,000 and that moneys are being spent on the restrooms. I mean that fund is specifically for promoting, developing, and maintaining the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“We obviously have to make sure our justification is proper in using those funds, we can’t just use them to assist us with operational. Right now, we’re actually putting a list of all capital projects that need to be looked at so that we can look at moving forward in developing and maintaining our UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as promoting it.

“This month and next month, we are actually promoting and going into the schools to give St. George’s Prep and East End Primary an idea of what UNESCO World Heritage is all about, what the Town of St. George’s is all about and also what Pilot Darrell was all about. We are tying that into the 200th anniversary of his death which is April 11th. We’re going to have a big bang in the square celebrating that and also promoting our UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

In relation to the municipality’s relationship with Government, Ms Francis said, “Our relationship has fortunately not been strained like the City of Hamilton, but all focus seems to be more on the City of Hamilton rather than on St. George’s, but our relationship, we have no bad ills with anyone.

“We work very well with Minister Fay, and Permanent Secretary Rochester who’s responsible for us and we find that whenever necessary, they seem to be quite supportive of any ideas or anything that we’re trying to move forward, our relationship right now is quite good.

“I think the relationship of whoever is in government is quite necessary to remain quite strong because they are pretty much our supporters in order to make sure that things do happen, because sometimes we may need their resources to assist us in getting things done, because we only have a group of 15 guys out there maintaining the town.

“With very limited resources, we sometimes have to call on the Bermuda government staff to assist us in different areas such as asphalting of roads or something like that. We have to make sure our communications and our ties with them are quite good because we never know when we may need them.

“Our staff, they’re quite competent of doing the work, I mean they do get quite a bit put on their shoulders and they do a great job for the amount of staff that we do have.

“After [Hurricane] Gonzalo, we were very grateful that numbers of Parks Department and Works and Engineering, along with our staff, was able to meet and to make sure the roads were cleared and get that part all sorted out before actually going into the actual town. We wanted to make sure the streets were all clean prior to going to the building damage or anything like that.

“In reference to our staff, I mean they have been at this for the past four years. This has been the level they have been at and I must say they do an incredible job maintaining the town. When emergencies do come up, they are able to handle these emergencies.

“It’s something that obviously, not in this day, we can’t expand our staff, but hopefully we will be able to, because the demands are becoming, they’re increasing on us because more people want to do things in the town and that means we get stretched to our limit. It’s a good thing in one way because you want the activity but then in another way, you have to remember that your staff are human as well.”

Asked about canvassing Ms Francis said, “I have commenced my canvassing, I’ve been encouraged by businesses and the residential community to go forward. I feel the fact that I am born and raised in St. George’s and still living in St. George’s, it’s a passion, the town’s a passion.

“I want to do what’s good for the people in the town to make sure that St. George’s is seen as not just a historic place but a place that you will want to come and visit, a place to come and do business and a place to live, rather than saying you want to go somewhere else. I wouldn’t think of living anywhere other than St. George’s.

“I think this year, there’s so much potential going on, we have the marathon leaving from St. George’s in May, and of course the annual Cup Match is back in St. George’s so St. George’s people are working really hard to make sure that we build up our pride so that we can be rooting our team on to bring that cup, but the Cup’s coming back, but it just needs to stay back, it needs to stay.

“Overall, I think the people in St. George’s have shown great support over the past four years and I hope that they will continue to support me going forward,” added Ms Francis.

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Comments (6)

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  1. aceboy says:

    I hope that no “Team St. Georges” tries to hijack the election.

  2. stunned... says:

    good luck Ms. Francis. my dealings with her have always been reasonable and professional.

  3. Wanting only the best for the Town of St. Georges, what better choice would there be if not for the position of Mayor be taken-up by one who’s been “in the running’s” of the “Ole Towne” for a number of years and not someone that’s basically, “a new kid on the bloc”

    • While on the subject of improvement for the “Ole Towne” dating back over 400 years with building still standing that can / will be without any doubt totally destroyed if, (God forbids)a fire were to blaze-up and the Fire Dept. can not deploy engines fast enough and be in a matter of a few minutes,(less time than to travel from present location)to tackle said fire a.s.a.p. and save a / our Historical Landmarks…
      Therefore, we MUST have a sub station, “with even one vehicle” in the “Ole Town” area to fight off the fire until other trucks can get to the fire.

  4. Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

    Good luck Quinell!!!

  5. St. D says:

    In her position of Deputy Mayor, Quinell has proven herself to be a decisive, proactive person of action who is willing to commit her time and energy to the Town of St. George’s. She would have my vote.

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