SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - The youngest candidate on the United People’s Party UPP list Kimberly A. Blair (25), a distinguished graduate of Mercy University in Criminal Justice with a Forensics concentration, steps into St. Maarten's political arena with a committed vision and a comprehensive platform aimed at addressing critical issues in justice and education.
Having returned to St. Maarten, Kimberly discovered pressing challenges faced by Justice Workers, including payment discrepancies and insufficient training and equipment for uniformed divisions. These urgent issues propelled her into the challenging realm of politics to enact immediate change.
Blair has a five-point platform she calls #BlairCares. She is joining her fellow candidates and the United People's Party in general, who have already sounded the alarm on the justice workers' disheartening situation.
"Some of my colleague candidates have already touched on this issue for the Justice workers, and in fact, they have worked on several levels to create solutions because they recognize the importance of ensuring that our justice workers receive fair treatment. With our collective voice, we have and will continue to show that we mean every word we say when we advocate for fair treatment for the people of St. Maarten in all fields,” said Blair in a Sunday press release.
In her A Five-Point Platform, Blair addresses fundamental challenges St. Maarten's justice and education systems face. Her five-point plan underscores her commitment to creating tangible change. Her first suggestion focuses on solving the budgetary issues affecting the government's ability to pay its justice workers after they perform their duties.
She said initiatives such as Introducing personalized license plates with a yearly fee and creating a self-funding model for law enforcement would be a first step in the right direction to ensure money is available to pay the Justice workers.
"It is not the only solution as more innovative ideas can be explored. However, the goal is to use revenue from personalized plates and other initiatives to support essential resources, equipment, and training for law enforcement directly, ensuring adequate community protection.
Her second point surrounds prison reform, which has been much talked about but with little real action. One of her concerns is that when first-time offenders are released from prison, their transition back is often complicated and usually met with rejection from society, making it hard to find jobs and stay on the "straight and narrow."
"We must implement a realistic and comprehensive re-entry program for prisoners by making sure that in such a small society, we Equip prisoners with essential skills, grooming standards, and rehabilitation, including a probationary job period and transitional housing for successful societal reintegration. When they qualify, these soon-to-be-released inmates can be given a one-day-per-week opportunity to participate in supervised work outside and incentivize companies to hire them in specific areas," said Blair.
She also contends that more must be done to make sure that returning graduates stop receiving a high percentage of rejection based on "lack of experience," as it is counterproductive to the plan of sending students abroad to study in fields that are needed locally.
"If our children travel abroad and study only to return home and be told they do not have experience despite their education, how will they gain the experience if we don't ensure that opportunities are here when they return, and how will the cycle of bringing people in from abroad to take up these posts, leaving these same returning graduates unemployed in some cases end?"
Blair suggests developing a robust system linking graduates' credentials to relevant job opportunities. She advocates creating a platform connecting graduates with suitable job openings, enhancing employment chances, and facilitating a smoother transition from education to the workforce.
"When you are in your last year, the recruitment process can commence, where you are directly linked with companies and divisions within government to monitor progress, gauge interests, and plan your return to St. Maarten, so when you get here, you aren't highly qualified and looking for a job for several years," said Blair.
She is also of the opinion that it is time for action on decriminalizing marijuana. Her initiative is advocacy for marijuana decriminalization, emphasizing medicinal use and implementing responsible regulations. Use the therapeutic benefits, remove punitive measures, and manage usage responsibly through education-focused regulations and taxation options to generate revenue.
There has been much debate over several years regarding the state of the police detention facilities and the Pointe Blanche Prison. Much to Blari's surprise, every opportunity to resolve this issue has been missed.
"I will not pass up an opportunity to address the prison overcrowding and infrastructure issues prison officers and prisoners face. The time has come to privatize the prison if we must ensure funding for constructing a modernized facility. Privatization can guarantee investment in not just a new prison with improved resources, aiding inmate rehabilitation and guaranteeing safety for inmates and staff, but also consistent and improved rehabilitation programs for our incarcerated citizens.
Kimberly A Blair's #BlairCares platform reflects her dedication to rectifying systemic issues within St. Maarten's justice and education sectors. Her candidacy embodies a commitment to fostering positive change for a safer, more equitable community. Her candidacy symbolizes a call for change and progress in St. Maarten, advocating for justice, education reform, and a brighter future for all.