THE VALLEY, Anguilla – A total of 20 candidates, including three independents, on Thursday filed the necessary nomination papers with election officials in Anguilla confirming their participation in the February 15 general election.
The incumbent Anguilla United Front (AUF), headed for the first time by Finance Minister Victor Banks, is the only political party fielding a full slate of seven candidates. Banks has replaced outgoing Chief Minister Osbourne Fleming who announced last year that he is quitting active politics after almost three decades.
Both the Anguilla United Movement (AUM), led by ex-Chief Minister Hubert Hughes, and the Anguilla Progressive Party (APP), spearheaded by businessman Brent Davis, are fielding candidates in five of the seven electoral districts on the island.
The three independent candidates are former Cable and Wireless (Lime) Telecommunications Executive Sutcliffe Hodge, educator Terrence Harrigan and businessman and telecommunications service provider Kennedy Hodge.
Harrigan and Kennedy Hodge are two of the five candidates listed to contest the seat in District one (Island Harbor) in the island's northernmost village. Also vying for the seat being vacated by the outgoing Communications and Works Minister Kenneth Harrigan are community development worker Othlyn Vanterpool of the AUF, ex-national cricketer and fisherman Samuel Webster (AUM) and attorney at law Pam Webster (AUF). A sixth candidate from the Island Harbor district building contractor and pastor Joshua Hodge quit the race last week and has since thrown his support behind Webster.
All three political leaders have expressed confidence that their candidates will perform creditably in the upcoming poll next month.
Meantime, supervisor of elections Colville Petty, a local historian and museum curator, said that " things went well" on nomination day.Petty indicated at the conclusion of the formal registration of the candidates that " we will be definitely ready on February 15”. He said that some training was still ongoing for members of his team ahead of the poll.
Petty confirmed that 8,652 persons in seven electoral districts are registered to vote in the general election compared to 7,558 five years ago.
District Four — which includes a large chunk of the capital The Valley and its environs — has the highest number of registered voters 1,789, followed by the Valley North constituency (District 3) with 1,655 and the Road South constituency (District 6) 1,371.
During the last election in 2005, 25 candidates were nominated to contest the poll, including 11 new candidates. In 2010, according to elections officials, eight new candidates have been nominated.
Voter turnout five years ago was 74 per cent.