ORANJESTAD- Government Commissioner Alida Francis has come out with a strong statement on Thursday after Councilman Clyde van Putten (PLP) accused Francis of not being neutral in the upcoming elections, and of trying to convey voters on the island to vote for the Democratic Party.
Van Putten made his statements, described by many as inflammatory, on a local St. Maarten radio station. “The Government Commissioner is clearly campaigning in favor of the Democratic Party” is one statement made by Van Putten. Van Putten described Francis’ behavior -among others- as ‘sly and cunning’ and also said she had ‘injected herself in this election’, when she was supposed to be neutral as she is the one presiding over the elections.
Francis in her statement of Thursday said that as, Government Commissioner, she had done everything possible to maintain the dignity of the office, sometimes even in the face of unfair personal attacks. “I have stayed clear of politics and respected the position of Government Commissioner. I have remained above the fray and respected my office and maintained its neutrality”, said Francis.
Francis also said that she was not going to pause on her friendship or -in some cases- even family ties because of the upcoming elections. “I will not put a pause on my friendships or family relationships because of politics, not even during an election campaign. I will not refrain from visiting my family and friends, and I will not refrain from speaking with people, even if they are candidates, I will not refrain from being me. In short, I will not put my democracy on pause”, said Francis.
While Francis said that she understood that sometimes certain things could be said in what she described as ‘the heat of the moment’, she felt that Van Putten this time had gone ‘too far’.
“This time Mr. van Putten has gone too far. He made a serious allegation in a personal attack, which is as hurtful as it is meaningless and baseless. As leaders of our close-knit community, we all have a responsibility to build, not break down, to develop our island and its people, not destroy, to be level-headed, not loose with our language”.
Francis concluded a video statement about the issue, with encouraging Van Putten to do the right thing, which was to retract the statement and apologize.