Commissioner Bruce Zagers is publicly endorsing Raymond Knops, candidate number 5 on the slate of the Christian Democratic Party CDA. “Raymond Knops comes with a proven track record of being able to keep Saba relevant on the agenda in the Netherlands. He has delivered tangible results for Saba.”
First, and foremost, Zagers wants to encourage people to vote in the Second Chamber elections next week. On Saba, the two voting stations at the Eugenius Johnson Center in the Windwardside and the fire station in The Bottom will be open for three days: from Monday, March 15 to Wednesday, March 17.
“Although this is an election that is taking place in the Netherlands, these parties and their candidates are also representatives of us here on the islands. Whether you choose to vote for a local, regional or national candidate, it is essential that we exercise our democratic right. We need to send a signal that we pay attention to what is happening on a national level. As their constituents, by us voting, we can hold them accountable for ensuring that our on-island issues get the attention it needs,” stated Zagers.
The relationship with the Netherlands remains a work in progress, said Zagers. “By no means is it perfect. Poverty, the high cost of living, and structural funding for the government are some of the very relevant issues that will need attention for the coming years. Ensuring that these topics remain on the agenda of The Hague is of utmost importance.”
This election, Zagers decided to publicly endorse Raymond Knops, knowing firsthand how instrumental the current State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations has been for Saba’s development. “We saw the first results with the financial support that we received for the public and private sector directly after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.”
Zagers said he appreciated that Knops, throughout his tenure, made it a priority to have his colleagues visit the islands to ensure that they could learn the intricacies of the islands’ uniqueness which cannot be portrayed on paper. “This approach ensured that decisions were based on the realities of what was seen and felt during these visits and not just an opinion that was written by civil servants.”
According to Zagers, with Knops’ more for more, less for less approach, Saba has seen the benefit through several incidental projects, including funding to build a new harbor. “We have seen again his commitment during the pandemic as he ensured that the economic challenges in the Caribbean Netherlands were taken up in the relief packages.”
Knops prepared an audio message for the Saba people. He said that for the last 10 years Saba showed how to succeed and how to benefit from the relationship with the Netherlands. He praised the local government for doing what he called “a very good job in further improving Saba” and added that from the start he had a good working relationship with Island Governor Johnson, Commissioners Zagers and Rolando Wilson, and with the Island Council.
“Progress has been made to tackle poverty, to improve infrastructure, nature. The first steps in designing and building a new harbor have been taken. But we should not sit back and relax. There is more work to do. There are financial challenges due to lacking tourism, and still, too many people are living below the poverty line. Therefore it is vital for The Hague and Saba to maintain close working ties,” said Knops, who promised to keep Saba high on the agenda in The Hague.