“I think it was the right time you could arguably say that the two previous elections I came so close but it still didn’t happen so I think this was the right time. As they say the fifth time is the charm,” Newly elected Ninth District Representative, Dr. Hubert O’Neal told the media hours after he was elected.
The new Representative, is a veteran National Democratic Party candidate who was unsuccessful in four of his election attempts, and was finally elected in the 8 June polls. Dr. O’Neal told reporters that the youths of his District were largely responsible for his win: “I think a lot of the young people gravitated towards my campaign. They were impressed with what my campaign. Some of the things I think they liked most was my zeal to have them become first time homeowners. When the National Democratic Party went out there and issued those land titles in North Sound I think that galvanized the support among the young people so they all gravitated towards my campaign and I think that really made a big difference.”
Hon. O’Neal also mentioned that the retirement of veteran Representative, Hon. Ralph O’Neal was a factor in his victory. He explained: “I do acknowledge that the stalwarts in the Ninth District had retired and that too was a major…so it wasn’t that difficult a task as in previous elections; because you know an entrenched politician is a difficult person to remove, so once he was out of the way it became that much easier for me.”
When it was clear that he had won, Dr. O’Neal said that relief was the overwhelming feeling he felt: “I had all sorts of thoughts going through my head because I said to myself if I had lost for a fifth time I would probably go down in history! A dubious record that I don’t think that any politician would want to have.”
“Those sort of thoughts went through my head and I said to myself I have to do whatever it takes to win I can’t have that happen again and it just happened for me. God’s will I think it was on the cards, because I was always so close. The sort of support that I had all along was I commanded nearly 50 percent of the District and it was just a matter of time before I got over that hurdle there to win the District,” Dr. The Hon. O’Neal added.
As it relates to the Virgin Islands Party candidate Elton ‘All Out’ Sprauve, Dr. O’Neal said that his opponent was not a major threat to him. The newly elected Ninth District Representative said: “He is my good friend by the way. He is a very charismatic guy. He is a very likable, personable guy; and when he got on the scene initially there was a lot of hype about him.”
“People formed their opinions, and said he is a formidable candidate, but he had his flaws as well. I went out there to exploit some of those flaws in little subtle ways. I was not undermining or doing any dirty campaigning, but in subtle ways I underlined his flaws; and I think the people eventually just compared my character to his and they saw me more as a representative, more of a statesman, so to speak, as compared to him. Although I might be quieter than him …I managed to sell that I was an advocate behind the scenes while the NDP was doing things for the Ninth District, and I think that thought cemented that idea in the voters mind,” he added.
Dr. O’Neal said that now that the campaigning is over he is ready to begin his job as District Representative. He also highlighted some of his initial tasks: “The first thing that needs to improve is healthcare in the Ninth District. I campaigned on that heavily and my Party, the NDP, was very helpful in getting the Nurse Iris O’Neal Health Center started. I am going to see the completion of that Center so that we can have comprehensive healthcare in the Ninth District — that will be priority number one.”
“I am going to continue to support the young people because that is where most of my support came from. We are going to continue to distribute Crown Land titles to young people, and not only that — we are going to help to finance building their first home. If you listen to any young person in Virgin Gorda or Anegada their first thought really is to get their own home, to raise their family; and so on. I really hope I can be that catalyst there to get them owning their own homes and we move from there,” the Ninth District Representative stated.