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Steven Linares steps down as Liberal party unveils new slate, GSLP presents its candidates

GSLP announces its new candidates at a press conference in the party's headquarters. L-R: Christian Santos, Gemma Vasquez, leader of the GSLP, Fabian Picardo, Pat Orfila, and Nigel Feetham.

The Liberal party announced its slate for the election on Tuesday afternoon, with Steven Linares stepping down after three terms in office and paramedic Leslie Bruzon becoming their newest candidate.

The Liberal slate will see party leader Dr Joseph Garcia and Vijay Daryanani stand for re-election, alongside Mr Bruzon.

“This followed the decision by Mr Steven Linares to stand aside from the process and retire as an MP from Parliament,” a spokesperson for the Liberal Party said.

“The party is very grateful to Mr Linares for over 20 years of public service as an MP both in Government and in Opposition.”

The announcement means the full alliance slate for the October 12 election will be Fabian Picardo, Sir Joe Bossano, Dr John Cortes, Christian Santos, Gemma Vasquez, Nigel Feetham and Pat Orfila for the GSLP, and Dr Garcia, Mr Daryanani and Mr Bruzon for the Liberal Party.

“Steven has been more than a political colleague. He is a close friend,” Dr Garcia said.

"We have worked together in the Liberal Party, in Opposition in Parliament and in Government too. His record in office has been magnificent where he has led on and delivered a whole range of new sporting facilities for the people of Gibraltar to enjoy."

"I am deeply proud of everything that he has done. I am personally very grateful for his dedicated, unstinting and devoted service to the public and the party. Steven has for many decades always put Gibraltar first.”

The GSLP also formally introduced its new candidates on Tuesday morning in a party press conference in their headquarters in Main Street.

The new GSLP candidates will focus on finance, housing, health, and equality as leader of the GSLP, Fabian Picardo, said he aims to play to their strengths.

The new candidates Christian Santos, Gemma Vasquez, Pat Orfila and Nigel Feetham, have joined Dr John Cortes, Sir Joe Bossano, and Mr Picardo on the GSLP slate.

Mr Picardo is currently eyeing the new candidates’ potential in different areas, after the departure of Albert Isola, Samantha Sacramento, Paul Balban and Gilbert Licudi.

Mr Picardo indicated that, if the party is re-elected, he sees Mr Santos heading the portfolios of equality and youth, Mrs Vasquez in health, Ms Orfila in housing and Mr Feetham in finance and gaming.

The next few weeks will see the candidates likely have these agendas in the forefront in their campaign, but Mr Picardo said they will campaign across all issues.

“We have to campaign for the party to be elected,” he said.

“Let's talk about realpolitik. I'm not going to send Pat to meet the Finance Centre Council to talk to them about protected cell companies.”

“I'm not going to send Nigel to talk to Action for Housing about how we're going to do the next stage of rental and affordable housing.”

“I want people to play to their strengths and we're all going to campaign together for the GSLP/Liberals to become the next government.”

“We take absolutely nothing for granted. We're going to work for every vote and we're going to show people what the whole team can do.”

Mr Picardo said the new candidates in the GSLP line-up would seek to continue to take Gibraltar forward.

One by one, Mr Picardo introduced the candidates in a live streamed press conference.

Mrs Vasquez is well-known locally for heading the ‘Stronger In’ campaign during the Brexit referendum in 2016. She is also a partner at law firm Hassans, a mother of two, and has previously held the post of chairwoman of the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses.

“I'm delighted to be standing in the GSLP/Liberal slate,” she said.

“I'm extremely excited with the weeks to come. I very, very much enjoyed the Stronger In campaign in the lead up to it.”

“The result here was amazing but, unfortunately, we won the battle and lost the war. And I look to bring the skill set that I've acquired over these past few years to the table and to Gibraltar if elected.”

Ms Orfila is a retired teacher, who worked in the fields of English and art, and pioneered the creation of the Careers Fair in schools. As a member of the GSLP she has held clinics, principally in the field of housing.

Ms Orfila was confident the GSLP/Liberals would be re-elected into office, highlighting the work the party has done while in government for education.

She also stressed her work in the GSLP aiding people with their housing issues.

“I have done a lot of clinics here listening to members’ problems and where we can we have solved it and hopefully I am looking forward to being in a position where I can even help further,” she said.

“So thank you and hopefully you will put your faith in us.”

Mr Santos just ended his mayoralty last June after two years as Mayor of Gibraltar, and the previous two years as Deputy Mayor.

He is also the Principal at the Gibraltar Academy for Music and Performing Arts (GAMPA), and Mr Picardo said he has dedicated his life to the equality agenda.

“I come from a background of entertainment, from productions, from working with young people and from helping the younger generations develop into successful adults,” Mr Santos said.

“My passion is for young people, but my main passion is for the Gibraltarian. I'm passionate about my community.”

“I spent the last two years as Mayor of Gibraltar celebrating our community, our diversity, our inclusivity. I hope that we get voted in and, if so, continue working hard for every member of our community, especially those who need that extra bit of support and continue the hard work that has already been happening, and all the developments with people in special educational needs and disability and all the different areas of our community.”

“That is where my passion lies and I intend to use that passion to listen to what you have to say, like I have been doing for the past two years and actually getting the job done.”

Mr Picardo called Mr Feetham one of Gibraltar’s most established finance centre professionals, as well as a published author in the field.

Mr Feetham is a partner in the law firm Hassans, and also the brother of Daniel Feetham, the former leader of the GSD.

Mr Picardo described how Mr Feetham had returned to his “political home” after some years away from the party.

“I would like to take this opportunity, first of all, to thank the party executive, to thank the GSLP membership, to thank the party leader, to thank the father and founder of the party, [Sir] Joe Bossano, for placing their trust in me and I assure you that that trust will not be misplaced,” Mr Feetham said.

“Those who know me will know, as Fabian has said, that I have worked in the financial sector for 30 years. I have also been a visiting professor of law in a UK university.”

“I have dedicated much of my career to the advancement of knowledge and education in those fields. I am passionate about the need to grow the economy.”

“I am passionate about the need to create employment, training and educational opportunities for our young people.”

“Fabian has once again confirmed here today that if we are re-elected into office, he will appoint me as the Minister for Financial Services.”

“This is my pledge. I pledge to the people of Gibraltar that I will do everything that I can.”

“I will work tirelessly to produce more results in this particular area, to grow the economy, and to ensure that nobody within my sector is left behind.”

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