Known in the community as an entrepreneur, Graham Weatherford has always been ahead of the game, jumping both on the power of the Internet for future phone books with bahamasyellowpages.com, and on the future of renewable energy with his solar power business, Sun Solutions Ltd.
It's an entrepreneurial spirit he attributes to his roots--his ancestors were reportedly the first boat builders in The Bahamas in the 1700s.
Weatherford's ability to see an opportunity and use it to his advantage helps him in his new endeavor--politics.
"Red, yellow and green are the colors of the traffic light and ain't none of them working," he says.
"I never voted before the last election because I was never given a good option, and that's why I said I'd go independent," he continues.
Though Weatherford has dipped his toe into politics beforehand and has been courted by political parties to join on as their candidate, he made his official announcement to run independent for the Montagu constituency over a year ago on April 19, 2010.
It seems that essentially, independents are the party of "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself".
Weatherford points out that independent politicians can get more done since they act on their own and not within the confines of a group--so when they are called upon to give an opinion about an issue plaguing the country, they can frankly state what needs to be done instead of taking into account their party's position.
"Independent is someone who doesn't subscribe to the status quo," Weatherford explains.
"Somebody who joins a party has to subscribe to those party's beliefs. So if a party hypothetically believed that they wanted to appeal to the Haitian-Bahamian community as new voters, I'd then have to govern what I'd say when it comes to the subject of recently regularized Bahamians."
Independents though, like all political parties, have power in numbers. Weatherford supports a system where a small group of elected independents--the Coalition of Independence--in the House of Assembly can waive considerable power when it comes to major issues by supporting either party.
"What this coalition does is bring a watchdog or a check system into the House of Assembly, because right now there is nothing that can stop a rogue leader," Weatherford explains.
"By myself I have no power, but in a coalition, I do."
Indeed, independents, he argues, can be powerful political figures. The best example is that seen in our own history, for in the 1967 general election when the UBP and PLP were tied with 18 votes each, it was independent candidate Alvin Braynen and labor candidate Randol Fawkes who tipped the scale by joining with the PLP.
"Independents have no power, typically. That's what we're led to believe. But two independent people changed the course of our country," he points out.
It's the kind of tipping point he feels the country is facing again in the upcoming 2012 elections, with independent candidates such as himself able to make history once more.
Yet Weatherford is all set to make history on his own if he is elected, with his many plans to kick start the economy with new industries and careers, improve education and start The Bahamas on the road to both energy and food independence.
Many voters, though, knowing Weatherford's considerable support for solar energy and renewable energy sources, may be surprised to hear what he believes will start the country on the road to such improvements: oil.
"I'm a unique person. I'm all for green, so some people will tell me I'm all mixed up," he says. "I say, don't be so fanatical. Use the oil to kick start the other sectors in the country that are needed.
"If I say I'm just for solar energy, where would the money come from? Let's use the oil, which is kind of like unlimited money, to kick start hydroponic, sensible, high-tech farming for Bahamians.
"It's a means to an end--using it to train Bahamians in sectors of food security and energy security. I would like to have truly an independent nation as it pertains to food security and energy security, and there are many things beneath them."
Weatherford credits himself with being able to see beyond the five years he may be in office to get the country back on track by introducing programs to make The Bahamas a self-sufficient country--something which he says other politicians are too shortsighted to see.
One such example he gives is in food security, which will hardly ever be secure as The Bahamas continues to import most of its food from abroad--produce which, if the right incentives were given, could be produced here.
Yet the duty paid to the government from such importation, he points out, is considerable and would be discontinued or highly reduced if the nation were to take charge of its own food production. That is eliminated when oil comes into the pictures, he says.
Though he is for oil, Weatherford assures his voters he is for drilling responsibly, showing his green roots.
"...Let's drill responsibly with Shell--not Exxon Valdez and B.P., but one with an impeccable record--and before they drill, we put the people in place in Andros to respond within seconds of a spill," he says.
Once oil is introduced into the equation, financial worries almost disappear, he says, and politicians can ensure not only that Bahamians invest in renewable energy sources like solar energy and their own food production, but also produce careers in such fields--which is something Bahamians desperately need.
"I don't believe in jobs, I believe in careers," Weatherford says. "We can start making them this way. This is huge. This is empowering people."
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