Etymologically, the word minister derives from a similar latin word meaning “servant”, a definition Evalie Bradley, a Methodist Local Preacher (lay minister), holds dear as she bids to become the elected member of District 5 in Anguilla’s upcoming general elections. “We are the servants of the people, and it is the people’s power through their ballots that will put us in our positions,” she says.
Bradley didn’t decide to run on a whim: after seven years of retirement from public service, she agonized over the decision after having dismissed the idea for many years. Eventually, the benefits won out over the costs: “I still feel I have something to offer to the community, given my background and experience,” she says. Accepting her role as a newcomer, Bradley is still learning the ropes but wants to avoid the more sinister aspects of political life. “I think you need to have a strong focus—know what your principles, values and your standards are,” she explains. “I think politicians need to be role models for the people we serve.”
Bradley credits much of her drive and inspiration to her mother, Pauline Hughes. Like many children who grew up on Anguilla at the time, the South Hill-born Bradley’s father immigrated to the UK to seek employment in order to support her, her two sisters, and her four brothers, so Pauline raised all the children herself. “She was a strong woman, and compassionate,” Bradley explains. “Everyone called her ’Nanny.’ She took care of many in the community.” Bradley herself had a sadder introduction to single motherhood after her husband passed away, leaving her to raise their four boys on her own.
A career public servant, Bradley started as an administrative secretary after studying in St. Lucia on a scholarship. In the years that followed, she rose through the ranks, including acting as Permanent Secretary on several occasions. She also enjoyed one particularly productive stint as Labour Commissioner, in which she learned how important it was for the public and private sectors to work together. “It was among my best years in the public service,” she says. “I was able to help resolve conflicts between employers and their employees.”
“Women can bring balance and reason to the decision making process.”
After retiring in 2007, Bradley remained busy—she helps with proofreading at the Law Revision Office and lends her extensive experience from years as Establishment Secretary to the Human Resources committee of the Health Authority.
“I think people are now open to the idea,” Bradley smiles at the question of the public’s attitude towards women in politics.
“To some extent, even men now want to see more women in Office.” However, she, sympathizes with Anguillian women’s apparent reticence. “It takes a certain kind of strength and fortitude, moreso as a woman, to get into politics,” she asserts, “[but] I think women can bring more balance and reason to the decision-making process. We provide that calming force that you can step back and see things a little differently.”