Former Mayor Fleming endorses wife and speaks of island unityPOSTED: 08/3/14 10:12 PM
St. Maarten – Former St. Martin Mayor Albert Fleming shared his vision for the unification of the northern French side and southern Dutch side of the island. “I am a people person and I love my country,” said Fleming. “Things on the French side are not going well because of the direction the politicians took on article 74 without having done a study. That’s one of the reasons why I left government because we don’t have the structure. We are in the crossroads of an extremely difficult situation financially, especially as a result of when the euro went into effect,” Fleming explained. “Buying power with the euro is tremendous against the dollars, and that’s why people don’t come to French side to shop as much as they did in the past. This is in turn affecting the viability of businesses on the French side, which are closing. In the long run our entire economy and the people suffer.”
Fleming also shared his concerns about the lack of cooperation among the Dutch and French governments and further explained that a clear mutual understanding is lacking because the legislation is different. “It’s not easy,” Fleming said. “It has to be dealt with from Holland to France from the central government level. It comes down to basic things such as the economy. Local government on the Dutch side controls education, whereas on the French side the central government, which is located in France, pays for education so they decide.”
Fleming expressed his sincere desire for more cooperation and unification starting with the simple approach of working together among both French and Dutch. He said this should be done in order to achieve the same levels of understanding and thereby collaborate to have an impact. “The basis is to start discussions,” Fleming pointed. “These discussions require that local people have to sit down and dialogue. Government can say what they want but it’s the people who have to better organize themselves. It is through having strong representation like Josianne Artsen, who is not only committed wholeheartedly to the process, but also deeply connected to all people, that these dialogues can be effective.”
Fleming supports his wife Josianne (aka Josie) Artsen’s campaign: “I would like to fully endorse Josie as a candidate because she has the potential to do a good job in various areas. I recommend her highly because she has been extremely instrumental in all of my campaigns over the past 24 years, and I know she’s a loyal and dedicated hard worker. She is a woman of integrity, and would be a good person to give a sense of direction to the UP party, as well as the people of St. Martin North and South. I hope people would put their confidence in her. I would like for the people on the French side of the island, who have always supported me, particularly those with dual nationality, to give her the support because I believe deep down in my heart that she can do a great job. I am now calling out to those people who have supported me to give her an opportunity to serve them.”
Albert Fleming further shared his desire for the people from both sides to sit down and look at what is the most common thing to start to work on. Issues such as immigration, education, tourism, economic growth affect all residents. Therefore, systems of cooperation should be implemented on both sides.
“The prostitution of people taking money to cover for other people has to stop,” Fleming said. “We need to control this better because a lot of the people coming here are self-centered and don’t have what’s best for St. Martin at heart. That comes from educating the people, creating social events, and programs together. We need to get down to the grassroots things, and discuss with the people what they need. Josie is steadfast, honest and willing to work. I am confident that she can do that.”
According to Fleming, unification among the people if St. Martin is yet to be accomplished and Artsen has the expertise, skills, connections, trust and dedication to achieve that. “We have to unify the people before you unify any other structure on the island. We are getting close to the point of no return. If we don’t do something now, it will be too late in the next couple of years,” he said.
“Josie is a person who has a lot of capacity where the human race is concerned. For many years she taught and directed several schools. She started out as one of the first teachers as a driving force to establish the Methodist Agogic Center (MAC) with John Gumbs. She is a strong loving mother and gives selflessly of herself to our children, many who have been adopted into the family as our own. Josie has dedicated her life to serving St. Martin. I really fundamentally believe that she can be an asset to St. Martin,” Fleming concluded.