The constituents of Christ Church East Central can look forward to better representation from Ryan Straughn in the next five years.
The victorious Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate gave that assurance moments after elections clerk Vincent Thomas declared him winner of the seat, around 1:05 a.m., at the counting station at the Wildey Gymnasium.
In one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent years, the 45-year-old Straughn amassed 2,969 votes to easily defeat his nearest challenger, first-timer Rasheed Belgrave of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) who secured 1294 votes.
Shawn Tudor, who represented the Alliance Party for Progress (APP) received 180 votes while the Barbados Free Party’s (BFP) Jannette Ifill got 73 votes.
While Straughn’s winning total was significantly less than the 4,062 he received in 2018 when he unseated the DLP’s Ronald Jones, he still managed to win all 18 boxes.
In his victory speech at 1:20 a.m., with his wife Jennifer at his side, Straughn promised to better represent his constituents.
“It has been a very hard-fought campaign because we took absolutely nothing for granted, and it is times like these when you have to dig deep and make sure that you run through the tape and get it done,” he said.
“The truth is that I have come to serve and I believe I have been able to do that, not just at the constituency level but at the national level, and I truly am humbled by the response and the show of support all through today at the polling stations….
“I think I have been able to form a good bond with the people of Christ Church East Central and I think that, certainly over this next five years, I can say to the people, whilst the first three-and-a-half essentially was more national duty, I am saying to them tonight that this next term will obviously be for them. Therefore, I want to thank them sincerely from the bottom of my heart for placing in me their confidence with respect to me being able to serve as their Member of Parliament,” Straughn added.
He also thanked Barbadians for maintaining confidence in the BLP and giving them a second consecutive term.
“This has been a very intense three-and-a-half years as part of the government, and I believe the people of Christ Church East Central and, certainly, the people of Barbados recognise the good work that the BLP has done and I played a relatively small role in getting things done,” Straughn said.
He also thanked his wife for putting up with his “absence” during his first term in office, saying it was a difficult time for his family.
As he exited the Gymnasium, Straughn was mobbed by a small group of supporters who had converged outside with signs bearing his name.
He hugged several of them before engaging in victory chants.
An obviously disappointed Belgrave was gracious in defeat.
“First and foremost, I just want to thank my campaign team, my campaign manager and everyone who came out and supported me and voted for me. I hope I didn’t let them down in my campaign,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“We fought hard and we fought strong but obviously the result wasn’t in our favour. But I still think as a first-timer I made an impact and made some headway and probably the next time around we will try to win some more hearts. Right now is just time for some reflection and review and we will just take some time off and relax and then get back to the drawing board.”
When asked if he would be returning as a DLP candidate, Belgrave was mum.
“I don’t have any comment right now. Like I said, it’s time for reflection and review and then we will make the decision when we have all the information in our possession,” he reiterated. (RB)