“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this Earth.”
This is the favourite quote of Crystal Caesar, who is the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party’s candidate for Constituency 31 in the upcoming General Election on October 1.
In this special edition of Ten Questions With…Ms Caesar, the dedicated mother of two, shares how she became involved in politics, her political achievements, and why she thinks it’s important for the youth in Bermuda to have a voice.
When she was younger, Ms Caesar aspired to become a professional dancer and are hobbies are travelling, and learning foreign languages. In her free time, Ms Caesar enjoys completing jigsaw puzzles and watching historically-based movies.
Ms Caesar says she is passionate about ensuring people have real, fair opportunities and equity across races, gender and life circumstances.
Here are her ten questions…
What inspired you to become involved in politics? Did you ever envision yourself running for public office?
My friend and mentor, the late Walton Brown encouraged me to get involved after I helped him on matters concerning immigration in 2016. Public office was never an aspiration of mine, however, I have always been interested in community issues, fairness, and opportunities for young people. Walton encouraged me to consider running for public office in 2017.
Describe your life before politics…
I like to start with my rotary exchange experience in the former Soviet Union in 1990. It changed my life. It opened my eyes to life outside Bermuda and “the traditional West”. It gave me an appreciation of how fortunate I was to have grown up in Bermuda; a relatively unscathed and high-functioning society. I experienced a country of truly proud people. The cultural and national identity of the Soviet Union was like none other at its time. I traveled the vast country and explored the diversity of the people.
After my exchange year I enrolled at Georgia State University where I earned Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. I also became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. as I was drawn to its commitment to public service and sisterhood.
From there, my professional life started in the United States and soon after I transitioned back to Bermuda. I attained my CPA designation and worked in various roles in corporate Bermuda. The highlights of my career include my time at the BMA (Bermuda Monetary Authority), and HSBC.
As the mother of two daughters, what is the greatest lesson you want to impart on them?
To be decent people, to be kind to those who they encounter regardless of background, and to have confidence.
Do you see yourself as a role model? What do you want young women to see in you?
I see myself as a role model firstly to my two daughters, and other young women and girls I have encountered through my involvement in community activities. These range from teaching dance classes, and through my roles in the corporate sector.
What is your style of leadership?
I’m a big fan of collaborative leadership. It’s a style that brings executives and staff out of silos to work together; information is shared freely, and group responsibility is taken for the whole. I’ve found the keys to making this work include clarifying a common purpose and keeping communication lines open.
You were appointed as Senator in 2017 what would you consider your accomplishments to be?
The Senate is where we essentially carry forward the legislation that the house passes. It’s a good training ground for understanding the legislative process and building relationships within the political system. It requires one to learn a variety of topics in order to have meaningful debate around the legislation put forward. My accomplishments in the senate include the Tourism Investment Act, the passed Mixed Status legislation, and providing opportunities for care facilities to begin operations more easily.
As you have been canvassing, what has been the most frequently heard concern and if you are successful how would you endeavour to address it?
The economy is the number one concern. Constituents are asking what is the economic recovery plan and growth strategy so that Bermudians can thrive and prosper in a post Covid-19 world. Additionally, ongoing issues such as education, and healthcare weigh heavily on minds of the electorate.
My stance on this economy is this: diversification. We must ensure there are several avenues in which Bermudians can partake in a prosperous society. While international business is the pillar of the economy and tourism will always be with us, we must boldly pursue additional revenue streams. Fintech is a good start, and that opens the discussion for us to consider lessor known but very lucrative sectors. These new growth sources can include the blue economy, infrastructure development, and our culture as product.
Many people have expressed that they’re not voting, and many young people find little interest in politics. Why do you think that is and how can that mindset be changed?
I’ll start with the youth. Many young people feel that their opinion will not matter to the decision-making that happens. They don’t feel heard, they don’t feel valued. I believe we can change that by engaging them and having honest conversations. We need to take on their ideas and their brilliance and recognise that they are valuable contributors to society.
As it relates to older voters, we as a government have created more avenues to vote which include early voting and voting at home for the seniors and incapacitated individuals. I am very proud of this.
Many people are preoccupied with figuring out how to make ends meet. Prior to the pandemic we were facing some rather challenging economic and social matters of which the current global crisis has only exacerbated. Unfortunately, this has led many to become disinterested. I believe that the right to vote is sacred and that no matter what the island faces we must safeguard our civic duty to ensure we participate in the democratic process.
To any Bermudian, home or abroad who wants to become involved in the political system, what is your advice on where to start?
There is no one formula or plan to become involved, but there are a few things that can make you stand out more than others. Start with reading. Read as much as you can. Learn about the history of your community, learn about policies that interest you and how your government works. Reach out to organisations that share your values and from there the world is yours.
Why should people vote for you?
People should vote for me because I am passionate about our community and will work hard to ensure that every Bermudian can partake in the riches our island home has to offer.
**The above text was paid for by Constituency 31 of The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party