photo: Esther Henry

THE BOTTOM – “Being in this election, it has not been easy, especially being the youngest person. I appreciate those who have congratulated me and those who remind me regularly of how brave it was for me to get involved”, said Esmeralda Johnson, number seven on the Windward Island People’s Movement list (WIPM).

Twenty-one-year-old Johnson made history as the youngest female candidate to ever take part in Saba Island Elections. Johnson graduated from Lindenwood University last year, with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a minor in Economics, determined to center attention on education, empowerment of youth and women as well as sustainability throughout campaigning.

Story continues after the video

by Esther Henry

“Several candidates have given me plenty of words of encouragement and offered help multiple times and I am proud to be a part of a powerful political party such as WIPM”, said Johnson.

Johnson continued, “However, there are still those who won’t vote for me just because of my age or because they think it may be a waste of time. Frequently, it’s been said that the youth are the future, so we the youth must be given the opportunity to blossom into our community and to show that our ideas and our issues matter too.”

Community’s feedback
The community is surprised that a young woman took on the challenge to enter into a male dominated field.

Former classmate, Bodna Guerrier explained, “The island needs to show more appreciation for the women as well as supporting and investing in businesses that are owned by women. For example, bringing back Girl Power, to motivate and push young women to learn and acquire different skills.”

Guerrier continued, “I feel proud knowing that a young female is running in the Island Elections, representing me because she is opening doors and opportunities for youths such as myself to voice their opinions and views on important matters that will help to build for a brighter future ahead.”

Alejandro Benders explains the two sides of the community’s response, hoping for a positive one

Alejandro Benders agreed, “It makes me feel happy that Esmeralda is running since she knows the struggles of a young person. She went to school abroad, she knows how it feels to be back home struggling just to make ends meet. The older persons won’t quite understand since this is a new and different era.”

Esmeralda’s family and supporters

Lysanne Charles MC of WIPM Party list said, “More women need to enter the political arena on Saba by giving their opinions and solutions to the issues confronting Saba. Saba’s politics has been dominated by men and of course, we had strong women in politics as well, but I think it’s often seen still as a male domain with one or two females being as exceptions. But, we need to change that by continuing to confront it, particularly with our youngsters.”

“I think people would support that she has been given an opportunity and would want accountability. As a community, we would need to follow-up with her to make sure she holds true to her commitments she’s made”, ended Charles.

On March 20, residents of Saba will vote for their representatives in the Island Council and Electoral College. The Island Council is composed of 5 elected people’s representatives. The Island Council supervises the island’s Executive Council, which is composed of a lieutenant governor and commissioners.

For the first time, persons on Saba with the Dutch nationality will be voting for the Electoral College. The Electoral College will vote for the members of the First Chamber, the Senate, together with the Provincial States.