The election for Board Members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of St. Eustatius and Saba, which was held on Tuesday, had a surprising outcome on Statia. Incumbent Chamber President and Island Councilman for the Democratic Party (DP) Nicolaas “Koos” Sneek was defeated by young entrepreneur V. Fernando Simmons.
On Statia, official totals show 98 of 281 registered business owners participated in the election, making it the best turnout of any Chamber election in its six years of existence.
All of the ballots cast in the election were valid. The last election, held in December 2015, drew only 56 registered voters to the ballot.
The contested vacancy of a Statia member on the board saw new comer Simmons taking it up against current Chairman of the Board Nicolaas Sneek, who has been with the Chamber since its inception in 2010, and has held the position of Chairman since January 2014. At the close of the voting the returns tallied 55 votes for Simmons and 43
Simmons (34) has been employed at telecommunications company EUTEL since 2009, and is presently employed as IT Manager. He described himself as a very ambitious and business-minded young man, as he is a business partner with Momzzz Bizz and an IT consultant.
He took the time to thank all those who placed their trust in him by supporting him and in so doing voted him into the Board of the Chamber of Commerce.
“Simmons is an out-of-thebox thinker, a listener, a caring spirit and local hero… He understands the trials of the new times and will work on solutions…The youth on the island deserve a chance to bring fresh ideas and new skills into our community,” some of his supporters said.
The election of a new board member for Saba was less of a contest. After weeks of advertising there was only one candidate who stepped forward, and since current Chamber Vice-President Wolfgang Tooten remained in office, newcomer candidate Hermanus van Xanten was seated to replace Kelly Johnson, who recently resigned, citing personal reasons.
When the new Chamber Board convenes the membership will consist of three members for Statia: Ebe lene M. Schmidt-Hinds, Carlyle A. Tearr and Simmons. The Saba membership will consist of Tooten and Van Xanten. The Executive of the Board will be decided from among those five members at the first meeting of the New Year in January 2017.
The Executive Councils of both islands will be informed of the official election results, which will also be posted on the website of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Daily Herald.