Theo promises 800 parking spaces, hospital, bridge across lagoon
PHILIPSBURG--The United People's (UP) party wrapped up its campaign in the run-up to the early Island Council elections on Friday with a fireworks display and live performances featuring Carnival-like-clad dancers performing on an elevated stage behind the main stage.
The fireworks display began in Great Salt Pond when UP leader Theo Heyliger, the last speaker, went on stage to address the meeting. Heyliger showed artist's impressions of what he said were some of the projects he intended to start if elected to office, including the bridge across the lagoon and the ring road. He said last night's meeting on the ring road would be the last meeting in the sand, as the ring road was coming.
He also promised that a new hospital and 500 new homes would be built and said 800 parking spaces would be created to alleviate traffic congestion. "The government building should be knocked down" to create parking, he said.
Heyliger said his plans were "not cartoon" or "Mickey Mouse," but were real plans that he would implement. He promised to protect the "historical value" of the island in the development of these projects.
Heyliger said the UP team represented strength. He boasted of his 15 years in government, which include 13 years in the Executive Council, which he said was unmatched. "All of the NA [National Alliance] candidates combined can't make up my experience," Heyliger said.
He addressed the audience briefly in Dutch and said his critics who said he couldn't speak Dutch were wrong. He said too that he and his #2 candidate Gracita Arrindell were only fighting for the people of St. Maarten.
Heyliger said his vision for St. Maarten was for every person to be employed. "This is time for you St. Maarten," Heyliger said.
"We don't need Jah Cure, we need our young people," he said, referring to the Democratic Party (DP), which brought in the singer for its last meeting. Heyliger said UP was coming for National Alliance and Democratic Party (DP).
Before he came on stage, local singer Cutie Johnson performed Heyliger's campaign song from Shakira's "Waka Waka" hit. Smoke and the elevated stage created a concert-like atmosphere during the performance. The electricity went off briefly during Johnson's performance, but was restored quickly and the performance continued. Many persons in the crowd had vuvuzelas (horns) which they were blowing as candidates addressed the crowd.
Arrindell, who called up the female candidates on stage, said she was there for the people of St. Maarten. She said UP needed to get St. Maarten "back on its feet. ... No one can stop us now. ... We will take over the reins of this country."
Arrindell said she was "excited" to get into government and "get things moving. ... This is a historic moment," she said, adding that those who had attended the final meeting were part of history.
Movement for Curaçao MFK leader and Curaçao's Prime Minister designate Gerrit Schotte, who had endorsed Heyliger earlier, said the people of St. Maarten "should give Heyliger a chance." He said "UP was the way to go" and that it was "the future."
He described his experiences in Curaçao's elections and said, "Theo should be given the same chance" as he had been given. "Let him make this country the brightest star in the Caribbean. Even though we are separated we will keep the family bonds."