Sprint for Congress

September 1st, 2005
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] On November 27 Hondurans will take part in national and local elections. For the Bay Islands congress seat, a veteran Liberal Party politician Jerry Hynds will face a National Party freshman- Shawn Hyde.

Bay Islands VOICE interviewed the two candidates about what got them here and how they see the future.

Mayor Hynds at his office in Coxen Hole's municipal building

Mayor Hynds at his office in Coxen Hole's municipal building

Over the last 25 years Hynds has worked hard to build-up his businesses and has become one of the most successful business persons and recognizable personalities of Roatan.

Jerry Hynds, 46, was born and attended grade school and high school in Jonesville. At 15 he went out to sea on a shrimp boat. At 18 he became a boat captain and at 22 he purchased his first shrimp boat- Captain Jones. He built upon his business experience and now owns several: Island Shipping, Coral Cay and a shrimp boat company.

Hynds has been married to Eleanor for 27 years with whom he has three children: Jerry Jr., Jay Phillip and Damara. Hynds suffered two personal tragedies: a death of his daughter Desiree and in September 2004, death of his youngest son Jared, who was killed in a traffic accident.

Even though many people claim they know Jerry Hynds, there are just as many opinions on who he really is. For some he is a charismatic, generous businessman and human being. For others he is an intimidating and a grudge holding politician.

One thing most people agree on: Jerry Hynds is a self made millionaire, a hardworking entrepreneur who hasn’t forgotten his roots and hasn’t lost his touch with his fellow islanders. He is just as capable of being comfortable around common island folk as with jet setting international big-wigs visiting his municipal.

There are lines of people waiting to see him about their problems every day at his municipal and business offices, but he can also make that access difficult. Bay Islands Voice has tried to get interview with Mayor Hynds for over a year and was granted one only three months before elections. Such is politics and after eight years in office few people know Bay Islands politics as well as Jerry Hynds.

Bay Islands VOICE: Why do you want to be a Bay Islands congressman?
Jerry Hynds: I think that the experience we have from being mayor for eight years and the recognition we have nationally will allow us to accomplish a lot of the things that this island needs and that need to be done to really give the people the life they deserve here.
B.I.V.: What can you offer as congressman that Shawn Hyde can’t offer?
J.H.: I don’t think that there is that much that I can offer that Shawn can’t, except that I have a little more experience than he does and probably can get a little more done. (…) He’s a very good guy. He comes from a very good family, has a nice wife and kids. I’m sure if he continues in the political reign he’ll have a position someday.
B.I.V.: How do you feel about West End community members acting against the idea of paving a road there?
J.H.: Some of it is personal [and] mostly to do with the bars that they are closing early. Some of it is for benefit. It is only a few people walking around telling people things that aren’t true. We want to make West End a better place. We would do nothing to harm West End. I think that West End needs some work done on the streets [and] we’re willing to spend the money to do it. We have a city council lady from West End [Delcie Rosales] that was demanding that we get some work done before our term is up. Unfortunately, there are a few people there that are using some good innocent people to sign documents that they don’t really understand and they are harming West End.
B.I.V.: Do you think that you will be able to do any more road paving before your term is up?
J.H.: Oh, I’ll work till the last day. I doubt that any of it will be in West End, but we’ll work here in Coxen Hole. We have to finish the road from The Thicket out to Bojangle’s and we’ll do work in French Harbour. (…) We’ll do work in Los Fuertes. We’ll do some work in Sandy Bay and we’ll do work for people that want us to work for them. You can’t really work and fight the community day in and day out, you know.
B.I.V.: There were some leaders from Jose Santos Guardiola that asked for some of the cruise ship revenue to be distributed there. Did you make the decision that JSG would not be given some of the revenue and do you think that it is going to hurt you during the election?
J.H.: At no time did I say “no.” I was not in the position to say “no.” I only control the local tax. Santos Guardiola is getting a portion of the tax as I know it. They will be getting a portion, starting October, or November. (…) A lot has changed since the dock has gone in concession. All of it has changed and I don’t exactly remember the portions because it has dropped down to less than half of what we used to get. (…) Once I’m congressman, I’ll be Congressman of the Bay Islands and not just for Roatan. I’ll have to be equal with all four municipalities and work as hard as I can for the four of them.
B.I.V.: When Arlie Thompson and you started eight years ago as mayors, there was an idea of joining Jose Santos Guardiola and Roatan Municipals. Do you think that idea is still valid?
J.H.: I think it would be the correct thing to do, but it has to be the people’s will. If people want that then they can get it done. But, if they don’t want it, it’s not going to be easy to get it done. People need to want to have one municipality. (…) It’s not a good thing for the island to have one municipality so successful and the other one not as successful. The island is developing at an enormous rate on this end and is not having much good over there. If we had one municipality I think we’d have a more leveled playing ground and we’d get the money distributed better for the Bay Islands. (…) This [Roatan] municipality has accomplished a lot. The way I manage things, the way I think, allows a lot of things to happen and allows this municipality to have money. I’ve come in here and sacrificed myself, sacrificed my businesses, sacrificed my family, so that this office could have money. I don’t collect for wages; I work here for free. I don’t allow gasoline for my own vehicle from this office.
B.I.V.: What’s the situation with the issue of the sidewalk in front of the Church of God?
J.H.: It was more political than anything. The guy there [Pastor Esau Brooks] is a radical politician. It had nothing to do with anything else. I’m working in a time where I’m mayor of one political party and they’re in power with another political party. It became so much trouble that I just went ahead and did it. I hoped that sometime in the future their mentality will change and they will realize that the people deserve a sidewalk and they can’t walk amongst the cars.
B.I.V.: So there is a litigation process taking place?
J.H.: There isn’t anything that’s going to happen before I leave office. Let’s put it that way. Because if the street is fixed and somebody is harmed those people would have to face God and know that they have caused people to get hurt.
B.I.V.: What’s the situation with this sewage treatment plant? I understand that in June 2004 it was operational, but it hasn’t been hooked up to municipal lines and you haven’t signed the permit allowing it to operate.
J.H.: We’re waiting on an audit so that we can see that all of the materials and labor that is on documentation is really physically executed in the field. Until we get that from the ministry we are not going to sign that. We want to know that all the money was spent properly.
B.I.V.: But to get this audit is taking over a year. Isn’t that a shame that if the project is really ready almost nothing has been accomplished?
J.H.: Well, I don’t think it has been a year. I know that this year they [PMAIB] wanted to deliver it to us and we were waiting for the audit to finish. (…) If it is satisfactory to us, we’ll then try to put it in function. If not, we aren’t going to take it. If the money has been spent badly they will have to fix it before we accept it.
B.I.V.: The Corozal garbage dump seems to be overflowing because it has not been compacted properly. What has happened there? Is Roatan going to need another garbage site soon?
J.H.: The island is growing and everything that has been done has been calculated basically on [estimated] population. These studies are generally done a couple of years before [projects] are executed and are already too small when built. [The trash] is being compacted as good as we can do with the machine that we have. What people must remember is that we do have a garbage dump now. Three years ago we didn’t have any. Now at least we have something. Maybe it’s not done to United States’ standard, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.
B.I.V.: If you had to pick one of your biggest accomplishments of the last eight years what would it be?
J.H.: Just to survive eight years and that I didn’t go crazy.
B.I.V.: With all the businesses that you have right now, responsibilities, family, traveling… isn’t being a congressman going to be stretch for you beyond what you could handle?
J.H.: I’m better off now doing congress than I was doing as mayor. When I was mayor all my kids were away at school. Now, I have two kids out of college and they are helping me. Congress is not administrative. This [being mayor] is administrative and it’s administrating the public.
B.I.V.: What is something that you hoped you were going to be able to do, but weren’t able to accomplish?
J.H.: I would have liked to have got a new government building out of town. (…) I wish I could have got to finish a hospital. We have all the plans. I’m putting the financing together now so I can leave it for the next mayor to do.
B.I.V.: Less than a year ago you lost your son in a car accident. How has this changed you?
J.H.: I don’t know anyway to describe how it has changed me. Definitely, I don’t look at the world like I used to 11 months ago. I guess I’m changed forever and definitely I’m a better person.
B.I.V.: What do you feel are your biggest struggles, regrets?
J.H.: Maybe I should have been a better husband. I’ve been successful in my life; I have no complaints as a business person. The Lord has been good to me and I’ve made some good decisions. I wish I would have spent more time with my family and kids.
B.I.V.: What is they key to your success?
J.H.: It’s about making good decisions. I have good friends worldwide that (…) have always been very willing and free to give me good advice. And I think that my strength has been knowing what I do [best].

Shawn Hyde on one of the Mariscos Hybur shrimp boats.

Shawn Hyde on one of the Mariscos Hybur shrimp boats.

Eloquent, energetic and approachable, in the last eight months Shawn Hyde had to learn on the go about Bay Islands politics. He honed his skills at identifying issues, building alliances, making public appearances, you name it. And he has done it well, so far.

Hyde has caught-up with his liberal competitor in the eyes of some local electors, but still has much more catching-up to do. An underdog in the primary elections Hyde squeaked-by incumbent congressman Evans McNab to receive national party’s nomination to congress. Hyde also had to do a lot of adjusting and alliance building since in the internal party elections his presidential running mate Miguel Pastor lost the nomination to Pepe Lobo.

Shawn Hyde, 36, attended his primary school at the 7th Day Adventist school in French Harbour. He finished high school at Forest Lake Academy in Florida and in 1992 received a B.A. in Business from Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. The same year Hyde began working as a port captain at his family business- Mariscos Hybur and for the last seven years he has been the general manager at the fishing and packing plant. He has been married for five years to his wife, Kandy with whom he has two children: Evan, 4, and Ashtyn, 1.

Shawn is following in his father, Allan in a family tradition of public service.

Allan Hyde, with other family members started a fishing, packing and shipping businesses before being a Roatan Mayor and a congressman. Now it’s Shawn’s turn to try.

Bay Islands VOICE: Why are you running for congress?
Shawn Hyde: To make a difference. I feel like if I want to live here, I can’t sit on the sideline and criticize. There are so many things happening on this island, in this department, that I had no idea about until I got into politics. The deeper I get into politics the more changes I see coming and I want to be part of those changes. We need government officials that are interested in doing it, not just the status of it. It does require a lot of time, a lot of personal time to do this. It’s not a 2-hour-a-day job, this is 24/7, and I’m willing to give my time to do it.
B.I.V.: Why start in politics at this level, at congress?
S.H.: If I want to make a change, I’ll start at the top. I have no doubt of my capability of doing it. (…) I felt that I was going to get a lot done together with Miguel. As I get in with this crowd, I meet people. (…) I’ve gone to him [Pepe Lobo] with a couple of projects, and he sits down, he listens, and then he gives you an answer. And the thing is, he follows up with his answers. (…) The future is tourism, but a lot of people forget that present is the fishing industry. It’s still a viable industry if it’s taken care of and if the fishermen are taken care of. The fishing community generates a lot of employment. (…) In Guanaja, the fishing industry is the only industry. The tourism industry there is either forgotten, or nonexistent. It is discouraging because they have such a great potential on Guanaja. That is one of the things that I would like to be a part of: to see Guanaja meet its potential as far as tourism and provide the people of Guanaja a different source of income. I take heart with Utila, for the local people they still have the fishing industry and it ties perfectly to the tourism industry. (…) To the east, in Santos Guardiola there is a lack of projects going in. I feel, as a government official, I should be part of the process to help these projects go in. I, as congressman, should be a driving force to encourage the investments in areas that are being developed and in areas that are not. I, as congressman, should be a facilitator to these people, these investors, and these projects. If they’re good for the island then I should be part of the process to help them speed their licenses through, encouraging other government officials to give them a fair hearing.
B.I.V.: What can you do as congressman that Jerry Hynds wouldn’t be able to do?
S.H.: I would say, in eight months that I’ve aggressively been in this, we’ve identified problems in the communities: water. (…) We’ve identified where there is a need and we come in with the solution. We’ve drilled wells for water, participated in the water project for Barrio Los Fuertes to get water there, where they were getting water about every 15 days and now they’re getting water like every 3 or 4 days. We drilled a well in Colonia Bodden in Coxen Hole. We’ve dug a well in Juticalpa up in Santos Guardiola. It was something that the people have asked for years, and we find a way.
B.I.V.: So you think that Jerry would not be able to do this?
S.H.: He’s been in office for eight years… I don’t criticize, or talk negatively about anybody.
B.I.V.: What’s changed in the last four years inside the mind of the Bay Island’s voter? Do you feel that this time around they will vote more for national party?
S.H.: In areas like Santos Guardiola and Utila you have red mayors going for reelection. In those areas people want to change. I feel that the candidates that we have which are Perry Bodden in Santos Guardiola and Richard del Olmo in Utila. (…) With Guanaja Richmond is an excellent candidate. I’ve been working hand in hand with him on encouraging the government officials to start the road project up there, a promise that has been made. Everyday we set up a call list and everyday he makes calls and I make calls and we compare our calls. That’s the type of people I like to work with. Don Julio, he’s a man of experience. Roatan’s municipality now is not a municipality with a little budget. Roatan’s municipality is the economic driver of the Bay Islands and it has to be managed as such. It has to be someone that’s hands-on, someone that’s willing to give his time, someone with experience because the future is tourism and Don Julio is one of the pioneers in the tourism industry.
B.I.V.: You were an underdog in the primaries and you’re an underdog right now. How do expect to close the gap?
S.H.: I just find great pleasure in being the underdog. I don’t have anywhere to go but up. I prefer to be under because I don’t have to protect the lead. It’s just as simple as that and all I need is 50% plus one vote, that’s all. I know that I have a mountain to climb, but I climb it one step at a time.
B.I.V.: Do the Bay Islands deserve another congressman representing them?
S.H.: What we have to do is make our own study and present to the government and say: “you know your census is wrong… this is the reality.” We need to get a good, independent firm, to make that study. (…) That floating population in and out of these islands is huge. People come here and lay down roots and become fabric to this community. (…) One person can make a difference. If one [congressman] is good then two [congressmen] ought to be a whole lot better.
B.I.V.: What’s your biggest strength as a candidate?
S.H.: I’m approachable. I’m willing to help and I will help this community. I feel like it’s a pleasure to be able to participate in this political arena.
B.I.V.: What’s your biggest weakness as a candidate?
S.H.: Inexperience in politics. Time gives you the experience and I’m putting in the time so I’m gaining the experience quite rapidly.
B.I.V.: How have you changed in the past few months?
S.H.: Its been a trial by fire. It’s a new process and I’m trying to get used to it. It’s a big job and it takes a lot of time. It’s interesting [and] at the same time it’s taxing so I’m trying to find the balance between business, family and politics.
B.I.V.: What’s your priority at this point: family, business or politics?
S.H.: Family for me is always first. Good thing with the business is that I’ve got a lot of help and many responsible people working with me.

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Governor Mrs. Johnson
Mayor Hynds can be articulate and charismatic. Hynds takes the stage at Solomon building in Coxen Hole, on August 17, with a personal anecdote about the new governor. On that day Governor Clinton Everett resigned his post and a new governor, Janice Johnson took office. Everett is campaigning as a National party candidate for vice mayor of Roatan and Honduran law required him to resign his post before the election. “I was not just a figurehead and I hope she won’t be either,” said Everett about Governor Johnson as he handed over the keys to the governor’s office and the office seal. Governor Johnson was a Roatan municipal secretary (1972-1995) and for the past 10 years she worked as secretary for Samuel Grant’s real estate office in Coxen Hole. During one of the speeches: Larry McLauglin, Rosendo Rosales, Clinton Everett, Mayor Jerry Hynds, Governor Janice Johnson. [/private]

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