Gline Clarke’s decision to retire from political office after over 25 years of representation in St George North appears to have taken very few in the constituency by surprise.
And constituents, particularly from his community of Newbury and surrounding areas have hailed the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) MP for his “remarkable” service. However, the streets have been equally rampant with speculation about who his replacement will be.
Barbados Workers’ Union General Secretary Senator Toni Moore, longstanding branch member Fay Burke, and hometown businessman Kevin Rowe have all been mentioned by constituents as persons they would hope to see replace Clarke, though none of them has expressed such a desire.
The buzz followed Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s announcement on Sunday night that Clarke would be resigning from his position in parliament to serve as Barbados’ High Commissioner to Canada.
Carolyn Corbin, a staunch supporter of the BLP, said that the decision had been long in coming and stressed that she trusted ‘Gline’ to make the best decision for himself, the constituency, and the party after giving “his all” for the people of St George North.
“Gline has been good to the people of St George North and to me, he has been extremely good. It is because of him that I have this roof over my head; it is because of him that I am working 25 years in government. As a single parent, my son played cricket, and there were times that he needed a bat or something, and you just had to call Gline, and he would show up at your house,” she recalled.
When asked about his replacement, she told Barbados TODAY that the names Kevin Rowe, Faye Burke, and Toni Moore had been coming up continuously, but stressed that her support is for Rowe, who is the Operations Manager at Gun Hill Signal Station.
“I am just hearing rumors like everybody else… and honestly, whoever comes, I will support. But my heart, and who I would really love it to be is Kevin Rowe because he is a Newbury man just like Gline is a Newbury man. If the others win it over Kevin Rowe, I will support, but Kevin is the person that I would like to win it,” Corbin maintained.
“I have confidence in my Prime Minister and if she believes that someone is the best representative, I am backing her don’t care what. I have seen Ms Mottley do things that have shown me that she really knows what is going on,” she added.
Tophet Wickham who was among a number of people having an evening drink also believed Sunday’s announcement was long in coming.
“He represented us in all forms and fashions, he helped us with water, roads, light, sand, cement, or even an extra board to put on your house. We moved from out of pit toilets…and although we now hold our heads high, many of us didn’t have much, and he helped us,” Wickham told Barbados TODAY.
But he described Clarke’s assistance with housing solutions for constituents as his single greatest achievement as MP.
On the issue of a new representative, the constituent stressed that the people of St George have traditionally valued homegrown representation, and warned the BLP’s top brass at Roebuck Street not to ignore their feelings on the matter.
He then mentioned the names of two young men – Rowe and Paul Bentham whom he believed could step up to the plate.
“Let [Mottley] know that we have two youths up here. Come and ask us who we want. Don’t send anybody from down St Lucy up here. We know who we want, we will pick who we want and we will back who we want,” saidWickham.
“We can change elections, and if we decide that we aren’t voting BLP anymore, we are going D and the government can change. St George can always change parliament,” he added.
Peter Walcott, who splits his time between St George North and St John lauded Clarke for his many years of service and expressed hope that Senator Moore would take up the mantle.
“[Clarke] was the best man for St George and although I am a DLP [supporter], I stand on equal feet, and Gline Clarke
represented St George even when he was in opposition, he would get things done.
“It came suddenly to you, but I was expecting that ever since. I expect Senator Toni Moore to run in this seat. Senator Toni Moore is from St George and St John … and she is one of us,” he declared.
Of the numerous names being bandied about as suitable replacements, Barbados TODAY was only able to reach Fay Burke, who neither confirmed nor denied that she was interested in the seat.