Less than ten years ago it seemed improbable, impossible even. Denis St Elmo Kellman was an immovable, impregnable, impenetrable force in St Lucy.
However, come next general election the impossible could be achieved, with the Member of Parliament for the island’s northernmost parish, who has represented the constituency for some 25 years, seemingly losing his invincibility.
The first signs that Kellman was losing his grip emerged in the 2013 election when he lost just about 1,000 votes when compared to five years earlier.
In the 2008 poll, the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) longest serving parliamentarian easily brushed aside Peter Phillips of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) by a comfortable 1,422-vote margin, polling 3,484 votes to 2,073 by Phillips. By 2013, the margin was 422.
Still, Kellman performed strongly, earning the support of 3,152 St Lucy voters –with Phillips polling 2,730 – on the strength of his performance in districts such as Pie Corner, one of his strongholds.
However, the tide appears to be shifting, as even in Pie Corner many of his diehard supporters seem prepared to take a chance on Phillips, as Barbados TODAY discovered during a three-hour tour to check The Pulse of the People in a random survey.
One of them is Michael Boyce, whose household has five voters. They all voted for the incumbent as recently as the last election. But not next time, he swore.
“Peter Phillips is the man. Kellman not doing anything up here. I voted Kellman in 2013,” Boyce said, adding that his entire household would also support the BLP candidate.
It was the same for Jalisa Watson, who said it was time for a change after 25 years of representation by Kellman, the last ten on the Government side of the aisle.
“I think it is time for a change. People have been voting for Kellman, but the roads need fixing and nothing is being done,” she said.
There was also Shena, as she preferred to be called, a public servant who was much too young to vote when Kellman first won the seat in 1994.
“I am going for Phillips, not Kellman . . . because he is arrogant,” Shena, who is in her early 30s, declared.
This notwithstanding, another public servant who did not want to be identified because, he said, he worked in a sensitive area of Government, was sure Pie Corner was still Kellman country.
Yet, he remained uncertain about who would get his vote when the time comes.
“Both candidates are from St Lucy. People favour Kellman. He is a community person. Peter [Phillips] is also a community person and is down-to-earth, but not as down-to-earth as Kellman. People in Pie Corner favour Kellman. Pie Corner belongs to Kellman. [As for me] I don’t know if I will vote this time,” the public officer said.
One of the biggest ironies that emerged during the Barbados TODAY visit was that Kellman, well-known for his St Elmo’s Moontown Restaurant and Supermarket at Half Moon Fort, “does not get any votes in Moontown”, according to residents.
Their conclusion was backed by George Armstrong, a sprightly 80-year-old shirtless man on his way to the nearby beach for his regular swim.
Armstrong seemed to be holding a grudge, telling Barbados TODAY Kellman had failed to keep a promise to have removed, a tree that posed a threat to power lines. Therefore, he intends to punish the Minister for Lands and Housing with his vote come Election Day.
“I am not voting for Kellman again,” he sternly declared.
Unlike Armstrong, 65-year-old Beryl Maynard-Gibson was not open to reveal who would get her support.
She had voted for Kellman in 2013, but could not be certain that she would vote for him next time round.
“Right now I thinking country and not party. I voted DLP last time, [but] whoever gets into power will have to deal with the same problems. No manna is going to suddenly come down and change anything overnight,” the recently retired Maynard-Gibson said.
However, her husband Noverton Gibson made no bones about what he intended to do when he enters the polling booth.
“All [politicians] are the same thing. I am not voting again,” Gibson said.
It was in Faustic Village that Kellman got his strongest vote of confidence, and even then it was very much that of a lone voice in the proverbial wilderness.
Even before Kellman won the seat, his DLP predecessor Evelyn Greaves, the Member of Parliament from 1971-1981 and again from 1986-1994, had helped the daughter of Sylvia Greaves secure a job.
An unapologetic Sylvia has been voting for the DLP ever since, no matter the candidate, and so has her husband, George, she told Barbados TODAY.
“Kelly [Kellman] is it. Since Evelyn Greaves helped my daughter get a Government job . . . one good favour deserves another.”
But another Greaves, Calvin, has supported the BLP for as long as he can recall, and is not about to stray now that the ruling party is seemingly very unpopular.
“I for Phillips. I always voted BLP. I grow up as a Bee,” he exclaimed.
There was a feeling among the Faustic Village voters, such as Patrick Gilkes and a woman who preferred to be referred to as Gap Kid, that Kellman did little to nothing to improve their lot, and his sole concern was Pie Corner.
“[It is] time for change,” the woman known as Gap Kid said. “Not much has been done since Kellman has been in.”
Unlike many of the constituencies visited by Barbados TODAY, few St Lucy residents expressed any degree of apathy.
However, there was Carl Springer who simple could not be bothered.
“I am not supporting any candidate. I don’t care who get in or get out,” Springer said.