For Daniel Gibbs, "it's time to act"

On Saturday at Nettle Bay, Daniel Gibbs held his first public meeting in view of the March 2017 territorial elections. The ceremony was presided by Hervé Dorvil, his campaign director.



"I didn’t come here to speak to you about my vision", said Daniel Gibbs right at the start of the political meeting on Saturday night at Nettle Bay. Before the approximately two hundred people who had come to listen to him, he especially wanted to focus on his party, the Union for Democracy (UD).


Several VIPs and other anonymous individuals came one after another on stage and explained the reasons why they believe in the UD or how they were convinced by its ideas. The audience was able to listen to Annette Philips [who has already been elected territorial adviser since 2012], Denis Lake, a businessman in Sandy Ground, Yolande Silvestre, and Steven Patrick, the representative of the number 1 district council in French Quarter. The testimonies of other people had also been gathered on video including a certain number of young people.

Jean-Sébastien Hamlet, the President of the UD youth section (UD-Youth) was also invited to speak about his professional career and his political intentions.

After an hour of confessions from supporters, Daniel Gibbs came on stage. He appeared at ease. The fact that he rubbed elbows with the Republicans at a meeting on the mainland has certainly got something to do with it. Daniel Gibbs arrived with a lapel microphone. He crossed the room. He embraced his father, Victor, and his second father, in politics, Albert Fleming. He greeted his other close family and friends who were seated in the first row. He then stood in front of the podium, climbed up two steps and began. His first words were for his wife who sent him a kiss to thank him.

Then, Daniel Gibbs went behind a lecture stand which was lit up with the UD’s colors. "A big thanks for your warm welcome this evening," he said. "Your presence shows that the thorough work started by the Union for Democracy a few years ago has found a faithful and strong resonance with the people of Saint-Martin", he announced happily. But he didn’t pat himself on the back for long.

He knew that he was the subject of many criticisms and that he had to respond. The first is that he isn’t the candidate of the people of Saint-Martin because he doesn’t know how to represent them. On this point, it was the father who defended the son.


A few minutes before the leader of the UD took the floor, Victor Gibbs was at the stand to speak about his son. "They say that Daniel isn’t from Saint-Martin… if ever there was a candidate who’s from Saint-Martin, it’s Daniel," he said while pointing out that his son was born on the Dutch side from parents who lived on the French side. "Saint-Martin is a unit," he said. “Daniel has a special love for the people, for Saint-Martin” (In English in the original speech), he declared in English this time. He then insisted on the "sincerity" that characterized his son. “If he tells you that he will do everything in his power for Saint-Martin, then he will do it. I don’t know if he will succeed, but he will do everything he can in order to do so. He will give it all his heart and all his soul”, said the pater.


Another criticism is his regular absence from the island due to his deputy mandate which requires that he often go to Paris. "He doesn’t think about the Collectivité anymore… That’s the kind of small statements, which my detractors have used… The critics have said that I won't give up Paris for Saint-Martin (In English in the original speech)", said Daniel Gibbs himself. Afterwards, he confessed his "pride in having been the first representative from Saint-Martin in the National Assembly". However, he didn’t "apologize or justify himself for wanting everything for [his] country".

His close family and friends and followers know that "this parliamentary mandate has allowed him to progress". On Saturday evening in the audience, they were noticing it. "Things are never easy when you come from a territory which Paris doesn’t know much about. I especially learned that you need to be involved in all the files, knock on all doors, do several things at the same time in order to have the slightest chance of being heard", explained Daniel Gibbs.


Thanks to his experience and his relations in Paris, the leader of the UD has gained confidence. And it shows. On Saturday evening, he was at ease behind his lecture stand. He does more than just speak with his hands, he opens his arms out wide. He paces his speech. He sets the tone. He lets the audience applause. He even encourages them to do so. His speech is sprinkled with expressions that make an impression: “I don’t want Saint-Martin to be left behind… I am here before you tonight because, like you, I have Saint-Martin in me... I did not come here this evening to sell you a dream”.

Daniel Gibbs "is not here to sell a dream" but "because it’s time to act", he explained. “Together, it’s time to act”, that’s the Union for Democracy’s slogan for 2017. The audience was asked to repeat this slogan on Saturday evening.

Nevertheless, Daniel Gibbs remained discreet about his method for taking action. He merely revealed that he has "a project for the society". "There are strong and inexpensive measures which can quickly transform our island. That’s why the Union for Democracy’s program will consist in two parts," he explained. There will be a long-term component and a series of measures which will be applied during the first twelve months. These measures include: the improvement of the management of household garbage, the installation of public toilets, the establishment of a start-up incubator, the organization of general assemblies with the socioeconomic interest groups in order to assess needs in the labor force, the initiation of agreements for the establishment of the French and Dutch Congress, the provision of all documents in French and in English. The UD has put into this program in the short term all "the needs and desires" of the people whom the party met in recent months.

As for the long-term part, it will be focused around the themes that Daniel Gibbs is always addressing: a tax reform, a reflection on the European status of the Collectivité and economic development. "I’m the candidate of economic development and the fight against unemployment", he declared. “Together, it’s time to act !” And the audience had to repeat it. "We will be smart managers: public waste has to stop. We’re getting down to a genuine recovery plan… The Semsamar must resume its mission as a tool for the development of Saint-Martin," he added. “Together, it’s time to act !”

During half an hour, Daniel Gibbs, who took the opportunity to juggle between the two languages, gave the tone of his campaign: "action". He descended from the platform under the applause. He went back towards his family and friends, his wife (another kiss exchanged) and went to greet his followers who he has asked five times: "Are you with me?"








Estelle Gasnet