For as long as I can remember, I have participated in public service - from community projects to raising funds for various charities, to actively promoting social issues such as the mentoring of young persons.

Public service has been the backbone of my life and formed the person I am today.

It became a part of my life at a very young age. I remember my parents telling me "it is your civic responsibility to give back to the community" and that I "can not complain if you are not willing to be part of the solution".

That's why, at the age of 11, I began volunteering with the elderly in a nursing home.

I have undertaken volunteer projects all my life and I now serve as a councillor for the Corporation of Hamilton.

In 1983, our first restaurant opened in St. George's and we were fortunate to be able to expand and open others. We would not have achieved success without the hard work of our loyal employees, who really became part of our family.

For me, it was much more than the business itself, it was about the warm environment we established and the people I worked with every day.

Commitment

Many of our employees were young adults who faced social challenges and little promise for a healthy future. Their fate on our small island was uncertain.

But that did not deter us from making a commitment to them.

We successfully intervened and changed lives by providing counselling and support, always with a hefty dose of love and caring.

I believe the first young Bermudian treated for cocaine addiction overseas was a member of my restaurant family.

And I've been blessed to play a part in helping many attain their dream of a college education.

Giving back to the community and public service has given me a platform from which I can express the morals and values of democracy, equality and unity.

No matter where you are from, the colour of your skin, your religion, gender, age or ethnicity, we have to work together to make our island a better place for all Bermudians.

This is why I did not hesitate to campaign with the new team at the Corporation of Hamilton in July 2009.

City elections afforded me a meaningful opportunity to serve Bermuda - an opportunity to bring the diverse voices and experiences of people who have been a part of my Bermudian life to City Hall.

Some have argued Bermuda is too small for city elections. I say no country is too small for opportunities to participate in a democratic process that serves one's community.

We should not be finding ways to reduce participation in city government but ways to encourage it. Since our team's election only nine months ago, I have been part of positive changes - from opening our doors so the public can see and hear about the modernisation of our city in town hall meetings to making our financial records public on our website so all taxpayers can see that we continue to maintain a debt-free, balanced city budget.

One of the first things we did as a team was update the Corporation's recommendations to bring real reform to the Municipalities Act of 1923.

Reforms

My colleagues and I agreed the act was in need of meaningful reforms that would modernise the way the corporations operate and serve constituents and rid it of antiquated practices that often left many Bermudians behind.

One of the many important reforms we submitted to Government was the expansion of voting rights within the city. This reform will allow all residents, renters and property owners to vote in city elections.

All of Hamilton's voices will be heard and our form of participatory government will continue to grow with openness and transparency.

As a public servant and democratic activist, it is clear to me what is at stake if Government takes over the Corporations of Hamilton and St. George's.

Government has already earmarked $800,000 of taxpayer dollars on foreign consultants to tell us what is best for Bermuda.

But we know what is best for our island and our communities and I take pride in the intelligence and common sense of Bermudians.

We are the ones best suited to determine what real reforms are needed and we know what is at stake - our diverse voices, our democratic rights to vote and participate in city government and our unity, all of which are the foundations of our historic, democratic institutions.

Now more than ever we must participate in our communities, engage our elected officials and make our voices and opposition to this undemocratic takeover heard.