Alderney election hopeful withdraws due to abuse
A RETIRED barrister was appointed President of the States of Alderney after the only other contender in the electoral race withdrew at the 11th hour.
Yorkshire-born William Tate was automatically elected after Jack Gates bowed out on Friday ahead of the election on Saturday.
Mr Gates, 25, who runs the Town Fryer chip shop, said work commitments and a ‘backlash’ on social media in the run-up to the election had compelled him make the decision to step down.
On Friday evening, States Chief Executive Andrew Muter, who is the returning officer for the States of Alderney, declared that Mr Tate had been elected president for the remainder of the term – around 18 months – that outgoing President Stuart Trought had left to serve before his resignation in May.
In a statement Mr Gates expressed sorrow if it appeared he had ‘wasted’ people’s time.
‘It is with deep regret I have decided to withdraw from the election. With work commitments I think the role of president would be too much and I wouldn’t be able to fully commit to the position,' he said.
‘I have also received abuse in the street and on social media. I didn’t realise this is what was involved in the democracy of Alderney.
‘Sorry if it seems I have wasted your time, however when a position arises as a States member I will consider running for that instead.
‘I wish William Tate every success especially if he has to deal with the kind of backlash I have received for attempting to make a difference.’
Mr Tate said yesterday that he hoped to play a stronger part in guiding government than his predecessors had.
Alderney law, he said, contained provision for a president to be elected onto committees, vote in committee and contribute to debate in the States of Alderney.
His appointment to office, he said, was only just starting to sink in.
Mr Tate said it would be an ‘honour and a privilege’ to represent Alderney at home and abroad, alongside his wife, Gabrielle.
‘Since we retired here 23 years ago, we’ve used our skills in different ways. Recently we felt the time was right for me to offer my professional skills in a different capacity. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do.
I would like to think I can bring my positive energy to our relations with the Bailiwick, with Jersey, with our French friends and with the UK.
‘I really want to be an ambassador for Alderney which hopefully will then open up opportunities with our economy which will benefit everyone who lives here. That’s the mission. It is a big target but it’s one that I hope I can deliver.’
The role of president was not necessarily purely ceremonial, he said.
‘Different presidents have had different approaches. Although there are people who say it is a ceremonial role, my interpretation is that there are greater opportunities for working together with the States for the benefit of all of us. I’ve looked at the law, as you might expect, and there is a way in which I can use my skill set to support the States members so they can deliver really strong and effective policies. That’s a very important part of it for me - working together, as a team.’
Mr Tate was last year selected as chairman of a working group to look at how governance of the island could be improved. That is still an issue close to his heart.
‘This conversation across the island is still going on and it’s something I still want to be involved in. It’s something which is going to provide a framework to better deliver policy and help to make us a place where people will want to invest and bring business to, so I’m passionate about that as well.’
Mr Tate also praised his would-be rival.
‘For me democracy is the fundamental and Jack brought a whole new dimension to that process because he was able to engage more younger people who live here.
‘I’ve always said that’s a challenge for us as an island because they are the future of the island, so we need to make them an offer which is going to get them involved.
‘Great credit to him for what he’s done and what I want to do is build that partnership as well so that we can have younger people offering themselves for public office.
‘We all had great ideas and passions when we were young and sometimes we let our passions run away with us and Mr Gates realised it was a commitment he couldn’t make now, but he would like to consider standing for the States in the near future so I think that will work incredibly well and I wish him every success.’