Devrae Noel-Simmons shows off his passed drug test. * Photo by James Whittaker.
Devrae Noel-Simmons shows off his passed drug test. * Photo by James Whittaker.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10: UBP election hopeful Devrae Noel-Simmons today admitted he has a cocaine conviction but insisted: “I have cleaned up my act and can help others do the same”.

The fitness trainer and nightclub security manager — a former semi-pro footballer for the Oregon Thunderbolts — was officially unveiled as the party’s representative in the Warwick South Central by-election this afternoon.

He will fight the PLP’s Marc Bean and the BDA’s Sylvan Richards for Dr. Ewart Brown’s old seat in parliament on December 15.

Producing a drug-free certificate that showed he had taken a test and was clean, Mr. Noel-Simmons said he wanted to confront his past   head-on.

“I knew this was coming,” he said, pointing out the October 15 date on his test certficate — before rival Mr. Richards’ attempt to make drug-testing an issue in the by-election this week.

The BDA candidate produced his own drug-free certificate on Tuesday and called on all candidates to submit to drug-testing.

Mr. Noel-Simmons said: “I got this done and paid for this myself because I knew what could happen.”
He was given an 18-month suspended sentence in December 2008 for possession of cocaine.

He said he used the drug for a brief time and admitted the offence in court.
He added: “It was a period where I was not with anyone. I had no real support and I made the wrong choice.

"It was one of those decisions you make that can cost you.”

Mr. Noel-Simmons said his arrest was a turning point that put him back on the right track.

"I like many other young Bermudians have made errors in judgement I am not without fault; I was arrested on December 31st 2008 and was given a suspended sentence for possession of drugs.

"Thankfully that served as my personal wakeup call because since that time I have been determined to change my attitude and become a better member of society and not be part of the problem or end up a statistic like many young black men in Bermuda, whether educated or not.

"I knew then and there that I had to strive to come up with solutions to help solve the growing problems facing Bermuda."

UBP leader Kim Swan praised the candidate, saying: “We need more people like Devrae Noel-Simmons to look the public in the face and say, ‘I’m here to make a change in this community. I’ve done it in my life and I can do it in the community.’ I’m proud to be here to put him forward as a candidate.”

A former competitive bodybuilder and rugby player, Mr Noel-Simmons insisted his experiences could help him have a positive influence on the community.

He wants to be part of the “solution”, and could help the Warwick South Central community deal with the number one issue facing Bermuda — crime and public safety.
He said: “I will strive to come up with solutions to help solve the growing problems in this community.

“The public have the right to feel safe in their own homes and neighbourhoods. We must overcome gun violence."

Mr. Noel-Simmons said his experiences as an event organizer and running a security firm have given him insight into the extent of the crime problem.

He highlighted national debt and improving economic conditions for small business as among his other goals.

Mr. Noel-Simons said he had been canvassing in the area already and would continue to do so over the coming month.

He added: “I look forward to meeting the voters of this constituency in their homes and discussing their concerns.”

The PLP’s candidate, former senator Marc Bean, is favourite to win the seat that Dr. Brown held for 17 years.

At the last election, Dr. Brown took 69 per cent of the vote.

Mr. Bean has not spoken personally about the drug testing issue.

But a PLP statement suggesting he would not be taking a test.

The party said: “The Progressive Labour Party supports a drug free Bermuda. That being said, there is currently no policy that requires any Members of Parliament to submit themselves to drug testing neither in advance of an election, nor during their term in the House of Assembly.

“The sole focus of our candidate for Warwick South Central is to strengthen and deepen the relationship between himself, his constituents and their Government.  

“The residents of Constituency 26 desire a solutions-oriented team approach to Government, not political theatrics."