Winner Charles Griffith (left) being congratulated by Leroy McClean. (Picture by Krystal Hoyte.)
New Member of Parliament for St John, Charles Griffith, is not known for his musical ability.
But for the history-making Barbados Labour Party representative, his triumph in Thursday’s General Election was all about his campaign mantra of “home drums beating first”.
Griffith became the first BLP candidate to taste victory since St John became a single seat in 1971. He won 13 of the 15 boxes while polling 2 983 votes to trounce his main challenger, George Pilgrim of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), who gained 1 598.
The 56-year-old Griffith, who hails from Edgecliff and is a former coach of the St John Sonics basketball team, said the DLP paid the price for foisting a perennial St Thomas loser on the people of St John.
“Someone from St John may have been a better candidate. But the fact that you brought a three-time loser to St John, the people felt disrespected, so hence the reason why this result was reflected,” Griffith said after his landslide victory.
After returning officer Richard Harris announced him as the duly elected representative for St John at 3:55 a.m. yesterday, Griffith took to the platform inside the new Lodge School Hall to thank his supporters.
“The mantra that we had throughout was the fact that home drums must beat first . . . St John will have the biggest motorcade,” he said to loud cheers.
The first-timer credited senior BLP members, including party chairman George Payne, newly appointed Attorney General Dale Marshall and St George South parliamentarian Dwight Sutherland for giving him campaign advice.
“I was on the ground every single day. I had advice from some of the senior members of the party about how I should be dealing with it on the ground,” said Griffith, a former senior youth commissioner.
“It was a case of every single evening knocking on doors, going after that vote, selling my vision of what I wanted St John to be like and now there is an opportunity for me to do that, I will do exactly what I promised back then, to make St John different, make people feel proud about living in St John,” he noted.
Griffith, a past vice-president, who also acted as president of the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association, said he was always confident of defying the odds and winning the long-standing DLP stronghold.
“We started our campaign from Day one when those posters went up so we were ahead of the game every single step of the way and we never allowed them to recover,” he explained.
He said infrastructure, employment and entrepreneurship will be among his priorities for St John as their new representative.
“Employment is a major issue among the youth and entrepreneurship as outlined in our manifesto is one of those things that I would be looking to do. The road network in St John is about the worst there is in the country and there are other projects that will come into play. The ideas and plans are there, it is just a matter of now triggering those particular initiatives in St John.” (EZS)