Over the last three years, Marsha Caddle has cemented her place as a politician, not only in the constituency of St Michael South Central which she represents, but also as a Minister responsible for Economic Affairs and Investment.
But with the calling of another election, she will be forced to face a seasoned political opponent in Richard Sealy who is gunning for a “second innings” in Parliament, after almost four years of “reflection”
In an interview, the sitting Barbados Labour Party (BLP) representative was confident in her ability to meet the needs of constituents at the grassroots level, but even more so through the implementation of progressive policies.
However, in communities across the constituency, there appeared to be a disconnect between the work being done by the parliamentarian and constituents’ relatively parochial expectations.
In many cases, there were pockets of poverty where residents felt neglected and in other areas, it was clear that people were craving the attention of a representative whose physical presence could be felt.
“To be honest with you, I voted for Caddle last election, but I went to her on different occasions and never saw her,” said Philip Jones, a fisherman from Halls Road.
“There are other people who told me that they got through with her, but when I went back to ask for her, I never saw her again.
“Mr Sealy, to me, is a very good candidate because he comes around, he looks, he asks and he helps everybody. No matter what, you see Mr Sealy all through the year,” he added.
Jeremiah Lestrade, also a resident of Halls Road, said he and many others who live in the Marl Hole area have spent months struggling to make ends meet.
He said efforts to get assistance from Caddle with employment opportunities were futile.
“Richard Sealy is the better man because he came out here, he saw me out here doing my garden,I told him I’m just forking up and there’s no money to get anything and he gave me a little $50 to get some seeds and trays,”
Lestrade told Barbados TODAY.
“I went and bought them and now I have them there soaking to hatch. So Richard Sealy seems to be the better man. Most of the time when he was around, he was helping people.
“We are hungry out here and when I say hungry, I mean it.
This is more than four, five years that I haven’t worked,” the young man added.
Lestrade explained that residents would only vote for people who were able to display in a very tangible way that they “have our back”.
On Villa Road, Britton’s Hill, a man who gave his name only as David declared that he would not be voting for Sealy or the DLP due to their failure to make an impression since being ousted from Parliament in 2019. But he said his support for the BLP is only based on the work done by Kirk Humphrey in the borderline constituency of St Michael South.
“We don’t see Marsha in this constituency. The only politician that we see in this constituency is Kirk Humphrey. So I would tell anybody that Kirk Humphrey has got my back to the end and in order to give my support to him, I would vote for the BLP again,” said David.
“I haven’t seen anybody from the DLP since last election, so I don’t expect that they can come back now and just jump in the race and expect that everything is going to be dandy, because even if you lose, you should still be able to come out and support the constituency.” Closer to the Valerie community, Stephen Greenidge, a self-proclaimed ‘Sealy man’ said he was glad to see the former parliamentarian back on the campaign trail.
“For the last 15 years, Sealy has brought a lot of positiveness to the constituency as far as getting things happen sports wise, culture wise and with a lot of different things. But since the Dems got voted out, nothing positive was happening in this constituency,” he said.
“You know with COVID you couldn’t do much, so I would give [Marsha Caddle] a little ‘bligh’ as far as the COVID situation is concerned. But there is a lot to be done in this constituency in terms of jobs, infrastructure and a lot of other things that I haven’t seen done yet. I believe that Richard Sealy is the best man for the job,” Greenidge added.
Sealy was convincingly beaten in the last general election, getting just 1,101 votes to Caddle’s 2,881.
When Barbados TODAY visited Caddle’s Carrington Village constituency office, there was a clear sense of familiarity with some of the constituents.
Caddle said her strategy was heavily focused on creating policies at the national level that would allow communities, like the ones in her community, to thrive.
“A lot of what we were able to do to support households during COVID at the community level we were able to do because we also had national policies – policies to support small businesses, for example, policies to support those in the tourism and hospitality sector, that could then be matched by the things that we did on the ground,” she explained.
The MP noted that more traditional projects like road rehabilitation at Flagstaff Road, the completion of six other roads, and the inclusion of small contractors in key projects like the Hurricane Elsa recovery efforts were instrumental.
But perhaps the most visible form of work in the constituency is the Constitution River Rehabilitation Project, which, along with the Building Blocks project, will create a commercial village for residents that is expected to finish in March.
“People have seen the support, the help through COVID, the projects that we’ve gotten going, support with access to employment. They’ve seen that. But only they can tell you whether that is the kind of representation they want,” said Caddle.
On the other hand, Sealy, who pundits have identified as a strong opponent, revealed that whilst much of his work in the constituency may not have attracted media attention, his commitment to public life is “as strong as ever”.
But he lamented that many of the projects implemented under his stewardship, from sports to infrastructure, had all come to a halt.
In fact, he added that even the rehabilitation project to which Caddle referred was modified to a large extent during his time as Tourism Minister.
He recalled that under his stewardship, since 2003, more than 100 public housing solutions were completed, natural gas provided to some communities and other “humanistic endeavours” like finding employment and helping small businesses were fundamental.
“The question of representation, I think that there’s a need for it to be taken back to the levels that people have grown accustomed to.
And I think, having had the three and a half years to do some reflection, I can come back as an improved product. I am actually looking forward to the second innings, if you want me to use a cricket analogy, and do what I have to do for the people of these communities,” Sealy told Barbados TODAY.