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Hamilton: Nursing has prepared her for politics

After serving 30 years in the nursing profession, trade unionist Cleola Hamilton is about to make her transition into the political arena.

The Progressive Liberal Party on Tuesday night ratified Hamilton to be the party’s standard bearer in the South Beach constituency in the next general election.

In an interview withThe Nassau Guardianyesterday, she said the field of nursing has served to prepare her for the new role she now plans to take on.

“I am a person who served all of my life. If you have that ability to serve and to care you can always meet people where they are. I think it is when we would have lost the vision of service, when we tend to take that road, that is not desirable for the people of the country,”Hamilton said.

Hamilton, a political newcomer, was one of two people seeking to get the party’s nod to represent the people of the area.

Leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, attorney Myles Laroda reportedly had won the support of the party’s branch. ButThe Guardianunderstands that Hamilton was supported by high-ranking supporters of PLP leader Perry Christie, some of whom are members of the candidates committee.

Yesterday she said she has already received the blessing of Laroda.

“You have to understand that we are all PLPs. It was just trying to get the nomination, but in the final analysis we are all PLPs working for the same goal. So no matter who would have gotten the nomination, we are still working towards one goal and that goal is so that the PLP can be the governing party after the next general election,”Hamilton said.

Hamilton, who heads the Bahamas Nurses Union(BNU)is said to be one of the country’s strongest female labor leaders.

In June last year, she led a week-long nurses strike after the government failed to deliver on a promise to implement group health insurance. It was only when a Supreme Court injunction was granted that the nurses returned to work.

Questioned as to how she plans to make the transition from the nursing field to politics, Hamilton said:”It is all national service, but only on a higher level.”

She added: ”I think that I can affect policy change and I know that I will bring lots of experience and good representation to the South Beach community. From what I would have viewed while I walked in that constituency, South Beach has really been neglected. Now that I have gotten the nomination my main goal is to bring South Beach back home to the PLP.”

Free National Movement MP Phenton Neymour is currently the representative for the area. It is uncertain whether Neymour will carry his party’s banner in that area in the 2012 poll.

Hamilton said the nurses union is now in the final stages of negotiations with the government for a new industrial agreement. She said once that is completed, it would be a good time for her to step down. She explained that the next step is to call a general meeting where the union will have some discussions and move forward from there.

Hamilton said that during her tenure as president, the union made sure that persons would be trained to take on the presidential post in the event that someone retired or bowed out of the movement.

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