Elections are much more than beauty contests. Unfortunately, what should be a clear o pportunity to discuss issues and make decisions based on one’s true self-interests often degenerates into a competition determined by looks, gossip and emotion.

Making a decision at the polls based on such considerations is akin to making life-changing choices while drunk.

Nevis finds itself at a crossroads this election season. Consequently any decisions made by voters should focus on three key areas: education, support for families and agriculture.

As employment opportunities diversify on our island, so must the quality of our educational offerings. Careers in hospitality, banking, finance, the media and other professional fields are available, but is our educational system up to the challenge of giving our young people meaningful opportunites to compete for such jobs?

Also, there will always be a need for mechanics, blue collar workers, and others who make things go and repair what must be fixed. Again, can our schools give our young people the tools they need to do such jobs?

Our families need help. We read daily of young people with little to do getting tied into the wrong element. There are too many single mothers without resources, or families broken by problems stemming from a lack of money and support. The primary building block in any society is a strong family. Here on Nevis, our government must first acknowledge that fact, then work to make families a major priority.

Nevisians must learn to feed themselves. The high prices we pay for food reflect the lack of consistent commitment governments past and present have made to agriculture. One need only drive along our roads to see the high quality of the livestock Nevisians can produce. And the rich volcanic soil of our island readily lends itself to creating a bounty of cereals, fruits and vegetables. Why then, can we not feed ourselves?

Those three issues–education, family support and agriculture, must be addressed before Nevisians can consider what, to many, has been the missing element in this election, secession.

True, the Nevis Island Administration, be it in the hands of CCM, NRP or any political party, has shown that it can run an independent government. But until we can educate ourselves to match 21st century needs, build strong families, and feed ourselves, secession is more of a distraction than a destination.

We hope voters agree, and base their decisions on those three issues rather than the personality attacks and popularity contests that have come to mar and muddy our election process.