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Clarke tipped as favourite, but JLP not ruling out Smith in by-election race

Monday, January 22, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — With a by-election looming following the resignation of Member of Parliament for St Andrew North Western, Derrick Smith, last week, OBSERVER ONLINE understands that Ambassador Plenipotentiary for Economic Affairs, Dr Nigel Clarke is tipped as the favoured candidate to contest the seat for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

It is further understood that Clarke, a confidant of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and deputy chairman of the National Growth Council, is currently dealing with paperwork to facilitate his participation in the selection process.

JLP General Secretary, Dr Horace Chang, when contacted by OBSERVER ONLINE confirmed that Clarke is a possible candidate. He said that an examination process followed by a decision by the party will decide if he will represent the organisation in the constituency.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer last week, outgoing MP Smith said there is no other candidate who is more qualified to replace him than his own flesh and blood — son Duane.

Duane Smith, who is a two-time Councillor for the Chancery Hall Division of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), in December said that he is determined to succeed his father who has been in representational politics for 29 years.

The younger Smith, at the time, cautioned that it would not be an easy feat, as he would have to submit himself to the delegates of the country's ruling party and overcome the potential challenges of other party members seeking the seat – now considered a safe bet for the JLP, since its formation in 1985 in time for the 1989 General Election. The seat was born out of a realignment of other seats in the Corporate Area and Derrick Smith has never lost it in contested elections.

However, Chang noted that Clarke would be a “good addition” to politics and his background in public policy is carefully being taken into consideration.

“Everyone knows Nigel Clarke's background in public policy so we have to look at that possibility carefully and with all the factors relating to the political station,” said Chang, adding that Smith is a “good young man” who has master degrees in business.

“Nobody is interested in a squabble at this point in time but Mr Clarke is someone viewed with a valuable asset in public policy so the party will be examining that situation.

“I hope that by next week [this week] we will come to a decision,” added Chang.

He reiterated that an examination process would be done this week and the party will decide which of the two candidates will represent it.

At this time, there is no indication of the candidate who will represent the opposition People's National Party (PNP), although the name of Councillor for the Trafalgar Division in the KSAMC Kari Douglas; as well as the wife of a former athlete, Olympian and doctor, have been mentioned as possibilities.

Moya Hinds


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