Opinion: A critical analysis of the three frontrunners in the pending Montserrado County Senatorial bi-election

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The pending Montserrado County Senatorial bi-election is one to consider as placing a wedge between the youthful population of the county. With the three frontrunners heavily linked to the young people of the county, it may boil down to older voters to decide the outcome of the elections. As it stands, Representative Saah Joseph, Liberia Entertainment Mogul Bernard “DJ Blue” Benson and Political and Social Advocate Michael Tipayson are the three frontmen in the race. Mr. Fubi Henries may be considered a fourth breakthrough in the group, however, the popularity of Mr. Henries is still kind of scanty.

There are many things for voters to consider during these elections. Past public performances, character, as well as consistency in endeavors are ingredients voters need to cook up in making their final decisions. To aid voters in making their final decisions, The Editorial Team of The Liberian Billboard have decided to critically analyze the three frontrunners in these elections from both our point of view and from that of voters and supporters of each candidate:

1. Representative Saah Joseph

The Pros: As a second term representative of Montserrado County District 13, Honorable Saah Joseph comes with experience from time served in the Liberian Legislature; having served and chaired many committees since he entered the House in 2012. This long period of service gives Hon. Joseph the advantage of experience, with his two closest rivals not holding any public office before. In addition to Hon. Joseph’s legislative experience, his philanthropic reputation is one that supersedes even his governmental service. As we all are aware, Rep. Saah Joseph is widely known in Liberia as the Ebola hero. During the deadly outbreak of Ebola in Liberia in 2014, Rep. Joseph was the main government official who personally took up the responsibility of fighting the disease. Using his contacts, he brought ambulances and various medical gears into the country and was physically present on the frontlines of the fight against the outbreak. His contribution during the fight earned him awards and praises both home and abroad and has since enhanced his reputation and popularity.

The Cons: Being a member of a legislature which passed many laws, especially concessions agreements which had little or no impact on the welfare of the Liberian people, Hon. Saah Joseph is seen by some as old wine in new bottle. His opponents are arguing that even as an opposition lawmaker during the past regime, he did not do much to effect any change and went along with the status quo. They believe that electing Honorable Saah Joseph will be political recycling and won’t have any impact whatsoever on the people of Montserrado County.

2. Bernard “DJ Blue” Benson

The Pros: “DJ Blue” as Mr. Bernard Benson is commonly known, has made positive impact on the Liberian Entertainment Industry. With Liberian music going in a downward spiral after the civil crisis, DJ Blue on arrival in the country created a renaissance in that aspect. Intertwined with his DJ and music production skills, Mr. Benson was able to guide and direct Liberian musicians and producers in producing high class and up-to-date musical albums. Partnering with Harzem Harb also known as Double H, Mr. Benson established one of the hottest radio stations in the country as well as a big time entertainment company. He has represented Liberia at all levels of the entertainment world famously deejaying on the DSTV Hit Reality Show, Big Brother Africa and has also been featured on the famous Channel O music channel. His impact in the Liberian Entertainment Industry has made him very popular and well liked in the Liberian society, especially with young people.

The Cons: Mr. Bernard “DJ Blue” Benson has a major stigma; he was deported from the United States of America. The reason of his deportation is unclear, however, deportation from the United States of America comes with one major reason: criminal related offence. Although since the Trump administration came to power, there are other minor things people get deported for, but the period when Mr. Benson was deported had only one reason, and that was some relationship to criminality. This is something that Benson’s opponent might use against him strongly. In addition to his deportation record, Mr. Benson is also seen as someone who does not possess the qualities of a lawmaker, especially with the loose lifestyle that is associated with music and entertainment industry. However, Mr. Benson supporters have argued that there are many former warlords who committed heinous crimes and currently serve in the Liberian legislature and in term of character comparison, Benson is far better than them.

3. Michael Tipayson

The Pros: Michael Tipayson, a young social and political advocate brings absolute youthfulness to the Montserrado County Senatorial race. An individual with strong stance on issues, Tipayson has been in the vanguard of putting governments to check and speaking on issues that affect the lives of the common people. Tipayson may be seen as a representation of the intellectual segment of Montserrado County youthful population. Although he hasn’t held any public office, Mr. Tipayson comes to this election with vast knowledge in politics and understands the workings and functions of the various branches of government. A good messaging will help him in a great way as he already possess the political will and ability to convince.

The Cons: One major disadvantage of Mr. Tipayson, is his lack of popularity as compared to Hon. Saah Joseph and Mr. Bernard “DJ Blue” Benson. A significant factor in winning election in Liberia is popularity; a name that has been around for sometime and which people are familiar with. Tipayson’s popularity is strongly attached to the intellectual class and the surroundings where he lives. Only a vigorous campaign plus very good messaging can make Mr. Tipayson emerge victorious; and he has the ability to make it happen.

Although there are two Senatorial bi-elections currently pending (the other is Bong County, for the seat vacated by Vice President Taylor), many Liberians are highly glued to that of Montserrado County. The first reason for this much attention is, Montserrado County is the melting pot of Liberia. Having both the nation’s highest population and registered voters, the county hosts people of all tribes. Secondly, the Montserrado Senatorial election is a major test of the ruling CDC popularity. Pundits believe that the CDC popularity has dropped significantly since the emergence of the economic crisis. From all indications, whoever will emerge as winner of this election will have to work overtime and calling a favorite is far from reality. Each of the three frontrunners has his own advantages and disadvantages. It is left with the voters to decide on which one of the three can truly represent them.

The Liberian Billboard will be here to walk you through till the end.