Three candidates vying for West Portland seat

BY EVERARD OWEN Observer writer

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


BUFF BAY, Portland — The normally quiet boardroom at the Buff Bay Community Hospital teemed with life yesterday as supporters of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP) came out to support the nomination of candidates for the December 29 general election.

Large crowds accompanied the JLP's Daryl Vaz — who won the seat in the September 2007 polls — and the PNP's Rohan Quest. However, there was no visible support for the National Democratic Party's Peter Flemmings, who is also vying for the seat.

Vaz was the first to be nominated at 11:06 am and it took him about six minutes to complete the nomination process. He was followed by Flemmings at 11:36 am and Quest at a minute past one. The latter candidate spent just over three minutes in the nomination centre.

All three expressed confidence that they will win the seat.

So confident was Vaz that as soon as he exited the nomination centre, he began making preparations to head to neighbouring East Portland to support the JLP candidate there.

"I am confident enough so I am heading to East Portland to help my colleague Patrick Lee as I have been nominated. My work is there to be seen by all and I will spend more time in East Portland over the next three weeks," he said. "I am well organised and methodical in the work that I do as a member of the Cabinet and a member of Parliament."

He also used the occasion to appeal for calm in the face of damage done to a billboard erected at Boundbrook in East Portland.

"I am calling to all well-thinking Jamaicans to desist from these types of intimidation and all acts of violence. I have given instructions that there be no interference whatsoever with my opponent's billboards. I am making an appeal to Portland and the rest of the island... let us tone down and go and do the work to convince those who will vote for us," he said.

The PNP's Quest, in the meantime, said he was sure of victory.

"We are going out in the field to work hard and bring out all the PNP supporters, as there are a number of people who are disgruntled with the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party and we are going to ensure victory for the People's National Party," he declared.

And, the NDM's Flemmings said his intent was to help the farmers and the youth in the constituency.

"So many candidates have come to West Portland and have not done anything for the farmers and youth of Portland," he said, but admitted that "some have tried".

"We need some factories and a new dimension of politics. We need some cheese factory and other factories to process farm produce for the benefit of the people of Portland," he said.

As the day progressed, JLP and PNP supporters paraded — in some instances together — through the streets of Buff Bay in party colours.

Robert Hassock and Delcita Wray, despite supporting different parties, said the politics will not change their great relationship.

"We are good friends and we are not going to support any violence that will mash up this country. Whichever party wins, we are still Jamaicans," said Hassock, who supports the PNP.

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