Newly re-elected President of the Barbados Labour Party (DLP) Verla De Peiza is pleased that several younger members of the party have stepped up to the plate to lead the political organization.
De Peiza, who was returned as president of the DLP following two days of voting, which concluded on Saturday, said President of the Young Democrats 25-year-old Kemar Stuart being elected to the post of General Secretary shows that the DLP’s general membership decided that the future of the party is in the hands of the youth.
Speaking at this morning’s Annual General Conference, at the George Street Auditorium, De Peiza said the party has watched Stuart, an economist, blossomed and became a national name, earning the respect of Barbadians.
“And so his coming to the forefront of this party as our incoming General Secretary shows that you the people of the party have decided that the time has come for our young people to step up and accept the mantle on behalf of the people of this party,” De-Peiza said.
“We underestimate young people, but that is where the vibrancy comes from in any organization. And that is why I am comforted again that our Vice Presidents are represented again by the young persons.
“You watched Ryan Walters tackle national issues; a bright man with young prospects indicative of the future of this party. I may lead, but those young people behind me are who you must look to for your future guidance,” she added.
De Peiza, who maintained that every organization needs to have a succession plan, also noted that she was also comforted with the fact that former Minister Steve Blackett was also elected as a Vice President.
“That mixture of youth and experience is what drives balance. And balance has been a concern of mine for a very long time,” she said.
De Peiza won for the third consecutive year, with 349 votes, defeating former General Secretary George Pilgrim who received 197 votes.
President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Pedro Shepherd is the Deputy General Secretary, while former DLP candidate for The City Henderson Williams was elected as treasurer.
Businessman Ryan Walters is the first Vice President, Andre Worrell has been chosen to be the second, Blackett has been chosen to be the third VP and former Minister of Education Ronald Jones is the fourth VP.
De Peiza also told those gathered that while many may not have liked the fervent internal campaign, she noted that “that is democracy”.
“And if there is one thing that this party has always done well, it was the democratic process. So there is nothing special, or mysterious, about our internal tussle, so long as we remember that the minute it is concluded we are one Democratic Labour Party going forward,” she said.
The President said after receiving news of her win, she made it her first order of business to reach out to Pilgrim because having competition for the leadership of the party has energized the base of the organization.
“And I don’t even consider it offering an olive branch because never for one moment did I ever feel like we were enemies in the trenches opposite one another. And you would have seen the pictures in any event, any function that we went to, we spoke and we were cordial. Because at the end of the day, one thing he was right about is that everybody has a role to play in this party.
“And win, lose or draw in our internal elections … there is only one face that we should show Barbados and the Barbados Labour Party, one united Democratic Labour Party standing together and ready to work. So for me, this is the new morning for the Democratic Labour Party,” she said. (AH)