Fayval Williams positive about snatching St Andrew Eastern for JLP

‘We are stronger’

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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AFTER two years working in the St Andrew Eastern constituency as the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP’s) candidate in the 2016 eneral election, Fayval Williams thinks that she has done enough to easily predict victory when the ballots are counted tomorrow.

"There isn’t any community that I don’t know. I have been visiting the communities with frequency. So, over time, people get to know you. They get to understand you. They get to know whether or not you are really in it for the people. For two years straight; you can’t fool anybody," she told the Jamaica Observer.

"I am positive that I will win the seat. I have been there for a while now, and that gives me a good platform from which to judge their response, and I am convinced that it is positive," she added.

Williams succeeded Dr Saphire Longmore, who lost to the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Andre Hylton by a mere 254 votes in the 2011 General Election. Dr Longmore was thrusted into the seat three weeks prior to the election, after being picked over two-time JLP member of Parliament (MP) Dr St Aubyn Bartlett.

Today, Williams is not only predicting victory for herself, she is also predicting victory for the JLP, which one 21 of the 63 seats in 2011.

"I am confident the JLP will win. My colleagues are doing good and serious work for the Jamaican people and the economy, and all 63 of us are out there for the JLP," she stated.

"This is my first time as a candidate, but when Dr Bartlett was MP I was treasurer for the constituency. I am new to representational politics, but this is what I have chosen to do right now, at this point in my life, and I live in the constituency," she noted.

Williams was actually born in Ty Dixon, close to Worthy Park in St Catherine. She attended the Ty Dixon Primary School, then Ferncourt High in Claremont, St Ann, then worked with the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) for about three years.

She left Jamaica after leaving BNS to join her relatives in the US. She stayed in the US for more than 20 years, got married, and gave birth to two girls, before she decided to return home with her family in 2002. In the meantime, she did undergraduate studies at Harvard University and a business master’s degree at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

"When I came back I chilled out for a while. I bought a little car called ‘The Island Cruise’, which was made in Westmoreland, and I toured the country. My husband was working with JMMB (Jamaica Money Market Brokers) at the time. When JMMB went public I did some evaluation work and continued doing work for a while," she related.

She was also executive director of properties company Carlton Savannah, now Kingston Properties, but she has given up that position since entering politics. Her husband, an engineer, is now involved with projects in the energy sector.

However, quickly after entering representational politics in St Andrew Eastern, she faced the challenge of re-energising the areas, which had been neglected since 2012 with the absence of a constituency caretaker.

"Unfortunately, when the party does not have a representative in the constituency for a while you do have some disappointment among the people while waiting for someone to come in. When I went there, it was obvious that they (supporters) had felt the need for a representative for some time," she explained.

"But, we started putting in our infrastructure; ensuring that our workers were properly identified and that they were trained and meetings were held. We established our constituency committee and we established a management committee, and so we ensured that everybody had a sense that things were running well. They had a sense that it was being managed, and they were very happy for that," she added.

She said that all the strong JLP areas are now re-energised and are fully supporting the party.

"They are not only back, they are stronger," she said, listing inner-city areas like Backbush, Hermitage, Tavern, Standpipe, as well as the middle-income areas of the constituency among the points of strong JLP support.

Among the problems she has found in St Andrew Eastern, Williams spoke about crime, especially in middle-income areas of the constituency, which boasts a number of secondary and tertiary institutions including the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, the University of Technology, and the historically prominent Jamaica College.

"Unfortunately, the constituency has had its fair share of crime, including in areas frequented by students, and people are very concerned. They organise meetings, they talk about the issues, they try to strategise to put plans in place to help to deal with the crime they face. I will be working very closely with the police and all other authorities responsible for the security of the people, to ensure that St Andrew Eastern becomes a much safer constituency than it is right now.

In reference to the other problems facing the constituency, she referred to unemployment and water.

"When people are unemployed they are unable to take care of their everyday needs. So that is an area of major concern. Obviously, to get people meaningfully employed they will need to be trained, so there is going to be a need to get people fully trained in the areas in which they are interested, and the areas where there are opportunities.

"In addition, the issue of water has plagued St Andrew Eastern , as well. Several areas in the community are without water. Even when there is no drought they suffer from water lock-offs and it is not only common in the middle-class communities as you have issues of low water pressure, for example, on the campus (UWI). There are also developments going on, which mean more consumption and which raise concerns about the future," she observed.

Williams also pointed out that Opposition Leader Andrew Holness has been proposing a programme to employ young people to digitise government documents, among other projects.

"And there are other areas we can look at. I don’t think we have explored all the areas that we could engage them (youth) in," she said.

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