The top five candidates on Saba’s Windward Islands People’s Movement (WIPM) slate on the balcony of the Government Administration Building after the preliminary results showed that the party had won all five seats in the March 20 Island Council elections. From left: Rolando Wilson, Bruce Zagers, Carl Buncamper, Eviton Heyliger and Vito Charles. Photo by Lincoln Charles/GIS Saba.
SABA--The Windward Islands People’s Movement WIPM secured all five seats in the March 20 Island Council elections on Saba with 779 votes of the total 982 valid votes cast.
The preliminary voting results announced shortly after 11:00pm on Wednesday showed that the Saba Labor Party (SLP) and the blank slate of Dave Levenstone were unable to pull a seat with respectively 123 votes and 80 votes.
The biggest vote-getter was WIPM candidate number two Bruce Zagers with 272 votes, followed by WIPM party leader and number one candidate Rolando Wilson with 153 votes. Eviton Heyliger, who ran number 4 on the WIPM slate was the third highest vote-getter with 106 votes. Number 3 on the WIPM list Carl Buncamper got 56 votes, number five on the WIPM slate Vito Charles 74 votes.
Newcomers on the WIPM list, number six Hemmie van Xanten, number seven Esmeralda Johnson and number eight Jelle van der Velde got respectively 67, 39 and 12 votes.
Number one on the SLP list Monique Wilson only managed to secure 59 votes, a lot less than she secured in the 2015 Island Council elections. Number two, Ishmael Levenstone received 40 votes, number three Thaddeus Nicholson 7, number four Charles Hassell 16, and number five Sislene Matthew 3.
Dave Levenstone, who ran with a blank slate, got 80 votes in total.
WIPM secured 547 votes in the Electoral College elections and the SLP 110 votes. Levenstone did not participate in the Electoral College elections.
“I told you there would be surprises when we presented our strong team,” said WIPM party leader Rolando Wilson in his short victory speech on the balcony of the Government Administration Building in front of a few hundred people. “What a day! A clean sweep! Thank you voters,”
Bruce Zagers. Eviton Heyliger spoke of a “historic moment.”
Main and Central Bureau Chairman Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, who announced the preliminary results, thanked the voters for the “maturity and civility” they had displayed.
The definite voting results will be ascertained during a meeting of the Main Voting Bureau this Friday, March 20. On Thursday March 28, the new Island Council for the period 2019-2023 will be installed, and the two Commissioners appointed.
The two voting stations, one at the Fire Station in The Bottom and one at Eugenius Johnson Community Centre in Windwardside, opened on time at 7:30am. The first voters were already waiting anxiously to get inside.
Monique Wilson (SLP) was the first number one candidate to cast her vote for the Island Council and the Electoral College shortly after the opening of the voting station in The Bottom. Right after, Rolando Wilson, who heads the WIPM slate, came in to vote at the same voting station, together with his wife Diane.
A little after 11:00am, Dave Levenstone, the sole candidate on the blank slate, appeared at the voting station in The Bottom to cast his votes.
WIPM’s biggest vote-getter, Bruce Zagers, with his wife Tracy at his side, cast his votes at the voting station in Windwardside during lunch time.
Just before that, at 12:30pm, the first figures of the numbers of votes cast at the two voting stations came in: 399 votes for the Island Council and 267 for the Electoral College.
The steady turnout continued and 640 votes had been cast for the Island Council at the two voting stations and 425 for the Electoral College by 4:30pm. It became clear at 8:00pm, one hour before the closing of the voting stations, that Saba, as usual, had a high turnout with 971 votes cast for the Island Council.
The atmosphere at the voting stations was pleasant. People behaved in an orderly manner and no incidents were reported.
Central and Main Voting Bureau head Island Governor Johnson visited both voting stations throughout the day, and kept in touch with the chairpersons of the voting bureaus and the Census Office which provided the logistical background support.
People waited patiently to first cast their vote for the Island Council, and then, if applicable, vote for the Electoral College. The members of the voting stations explained to the voters that they first had to fill in the ballot for the Island Council, drop it in the ballot box marked Island Council, and then return in line if they also had a voting card for the Electoral College. The two ballot boxes, which were completely transparent, were clearly marked to prevent confusion.
Two observers were present from International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a non-profit, non-partisan electoral assistance organisation that has worked with more than 145 countries in the past 30 years.
1,078 eligible voters
For these elections, Saba had 1,078 eligible voters for the Island Council and 905 for the Electoral College. Only persons with Dutch nationality could vote for the Electoral College, the body that will vote for the members of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, the Senate. This year, there were 20 more eligible voters for the Island Council compared to the 2015 Island Council elections when there were 1,058 eligible voters.
During the 2015 Island Council elections, 952 valid votes were cast, of which 545 were for WIPM and 407 for SLP. WIPM won three seats in the Island Council and SLP two. Bruce Zagers (WIPM) was the biggest vote-getter in 2015 with 187 votes, followed by Chris Johnson (WIPM) with 145 votes and Monique Wilson with 121 votes. At that time, Bruce Zagers ran number three on the WIPM slate and Chris Johnson number two, while Monique Wilson was number 6 on the SLP slate.
Rolando Wilson, Carl Buncamper and Eviton Heyliger took up seats in the Island Council in 2015 on behalf of WIPM. Monique Wilson and number one on the SLP slate Ishmael Levenstone became Island Council Members for SLP. Chris Johnson and Bruce Zagers became Commissioners.
When Chris Johnson left Saba to become the Dutch Representative in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Rolando Wilson was appointed Commissioner in May 2016 and Vito Charles took his seat in the Island Council.