Simmons-Wade prioritises social justice and health

  • Political legacy: Ianthia Simmons-Wade (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Political legacy: Ianthia Simmons-Wade (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Social justice and the health of Bermudians are two of the key priorities in Ianthia Simmons-Wade’s General Election campaign.

Ms Simmons-Wade, appointed a government senator last December, is running in Warwick North East against the One Bermuda Alliance’s Jon Brunson.

The seat was won by Curtis Dickinson, now the Minister of Finance, after he beat the OBA’s Justin Mathias by 375 votes to 300 in a 2018 by-election.

The seat was held by the OBA for six years and is seen by many political observers as a marginal.

Ms Simmons-Wade was not available for interview, although several requests were made to her and the PLP’s communications team.

But she told a press conference on Friday that she was proud to represent a party with many of the ideas and goals advanced by the global Black Lives Matter movement.

Ms Simmons-Wade said: “On June 27, along with thousands of Bermudians from all walks of life, I marched proudly in the Black Lives Matter march.

“I have read the Social Justice Bermuda platform and I applaud their actions as champions of social justice.”

She said the Government backed the goals of BLM, which was why it passed legislation to wipe criminal convictions from the records of people with convictions for possession of seven grams or less of cannabis for personal use.

The Constituency 25 candidate said: “This legislation rids our society of the unfairness, especially to young black men, of harsh drug enforcement and criminal justice practices long recognised as having a lifetime impact on education and employment prospects for our youth.

“Globally, this is a very progressive position and I’m proud that our government took it.”

Ms Simmons-Wade highlighted the success of the Gang Violence Reduction Team, set up to combat the risk factors that set young people on a path towards gangs and antisocial behaviour.

She said: “The team operates from a co-ordinated plan to tackle gang violence and antisocial behaviour through a series of strategically designed prevention, intervention and rehabilitative programmes and initiatives.”

Ms Simmons-Wade told voters: “The Redemption Farm programme will be expanded if we have the honour of serving you again.”

She said other key election pledges were the creation of a prison co-operative that allowed prisoners to learn a trade and earn money, increased support for probation services, and an expansion of treatment programmes for offenders with mental health, substance abuse or violence problems.

Ms Simmons-Wade added there would also be “enhanced provisions” for transitional living.

She said: “This government is committed to the principles of the global movement of social and racial justice. Together, we will build a fairer Bermuda, where Bermudians have opportunities and are not held back by structural discrimination.”

Ms Simmons-Wade talked about her “rich family legacy” in politics when her candidacy was announced this month.

Her great-grandfather, William Joell, was the first elected black Member of Parliament and she is the widow of the late Frederick Wade, a former PLP leader.

She said: “As the wife of the late L. Frederick Wade, my level of social consciousness grew significantly. Politics has been an integral part of my life for over 35 years.

“Community service has also been instilled in my triplets, Frederick, Ceola and Kamela.

“As a single parent for 24 years, I understand the struggles of being the sole breadwinner and raising and educating children in our world today.”

Ms Simmons-Wade, who is running for election for the first time, attended the Berkeley Institute.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Howard University and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from George Washington University in Washington.

Ms Simmons-Wade was the administrator of Summerhaven assisted living centre, but was suspended from her job in 2008 over allegations of mismanagement.

She was cleared of any wrongdoing two years later after an investigation.

She served as junior Minister of Health, communications and Cabinet in the last government and was the chairwoman of the Ageing Well Committee.

The PLP said: “Ianthia is committed to serving Bermuda through the prioritisation of the health and wellbeing agenda of every man, woman and child. She is a passionate advocate for seniors and the disabled citizens.”

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Published Sep 28, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 28, 2020 at 6:54 am)

Simmons-Wade prioritises social justice and health

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