'My bid is legitimate'

'My bid is legitimate'

Housen dismisses claim she entered PNP gen sec race to split votes

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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DECLARING that her candidacy for general secretary of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) is genuine, attorney-at-law Jennifer Housen yesterday rubbished claims of a tactic to split the votes in the contest expected to take place on Sunday during a meeting of the party's National Executive Council (NEC).

Housen, the latest of three interested parties to declare her hand, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview that her sole reason for entering the contest, which so far sees Dr Dayton Campbell and Raymond Pryce as combatants, is for the love of the PNP.

“I want to categorically say that that is not the case. I have put forward a legitimate bid; a legitimate suggestion of myself. I have put myself forward in furtherance of service of the party because the People's National Party means a lot to me. This is not something that I just picked up yesterday. As a child growing up, and knowing what the party has offered me, it was a party that encouraged young people,” Housen said.

“So, for me, my bid is a genuine bid, and speculations will come and go, and I just want to say that that's untrue. That's not true at all. I've seen various things saying that this is a plan, you know, but it's nothing like that. I sat and I really felt that, as far as I am concerned, I think the choice should be there,” she added.

She pointed out that she has, in the past, been a part of both camps in last year's leadership challenge when she backed Peter Bunting's failed bid to unseat then President Dr Peter Phillips, and the just-concluded leadership contest in which she backed Lisa Hanna, who lost the race against Mark Golding.

“I feel that having straddled both I've shown my hand, that for me it's the party that is critical. What I am offering is myself. Dayton is a great guy; so is Raymond. But having a pool of eligible persons can only be good for the party. That's my view. It gives people a choice,” she said.

In a statement on Saturday, Housen said there is a rebuilding and reuniting process that must be engaged, and which requires a general secretary seized with empathy, tenacity, and administrative, organisational, and conflict/dispute resolution skills along with an enthusiastic need to serve the party and support the comrade leader.

It is her belief that she can offer “all these things” at this time.

“If our convictions are serious, and as a party we are committed to transcending institutionalised rewarding of loyalties for the greater good of the party, we can lift this party of our forebears, and defeat any foe against whom we stand united. It is for this reason I offer myself, willing and able as a servant-leader, in the role of general secretary.

“I ask your support as NEC members, in the party's best interest, in this journey, for the party's sake,” her statement said.

Yesterday, Housen told the Observer that beyond the need for organisational skills in the position, she brings to the table “ the kind of legal perspective that would also be helpful in a role that is not just about conflict and dispute resolution”.

Reminding of the furore that occurred when the country found out in 2017 that PNP candidate in the St Mary South Eastern by-election Dr Shane Alexis had Canadian citizenship, Housen suggested that a legal mind would have been able to avert any blowback.

She noted, also, that she is no longer active in terms of representational politics, having left the chairmanship position of St Andrew West Rural ahead of this year's general election.

That, she believes, is also a critical factor in deciding who is elected by the 326-member NEC.

“So, it's a post I can concentrate on. Having been in a situation where I have wanted certain things from the secretariat that I didn't receive, I feel that I may well be best placed to use my legal and business expertise for the benefit of the role,” said Housen.

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