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Brown-Burke now a PNP vice-president

BY ERICA VIRTUE Sunday Observer writer

Sunday, September 24, 2006    

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Corporate Area Councillor Angela Brown-Burke was yesterday elevated to the rank of vice-president of the ruling People's National Party (PNP) by delegates who elected four of seven contenders in the race.

Brown-Burke polled a total of 1,502 votes to trail behind Derrick Kellier with 2,074; Dr Fenton Ferguson, 2,249; and incumbent Dr Peter Phillips who attracted the largest support with 2,382 votes. The losing contenders were Sharon Hay-Webster, who received 1,322 votes; Kern Spencer with 1,353; and Louis Moyston with a paltry 516.

"I stand ready to serve in any capacity in my party," an elated Brown-Burke told the Sunday Observer minutes after she was mobbed by supporters. "I'm honoured that the delegates have placed this trust in me and I stand ready to offer my services to the leadership, delegates and workers of the great People's National Party."

Brown Burke is the wife of Paul Burke, the former Region Three chairman who lost in his bid to become a vice-president in 2004.

Regarded by some as a newcomer to politics, Brown-Burke yesterday said she felt vindicated after taking much flak from a smear campaign that was waged against her in the weeks leading up to the election.

"I feel absolutely vindicated and honoured by the confidence of the average PNP members and delegates that they have placed upon my shoulders, the task of making sure that they are a part of every single major decision of the party," she said with a broad smile. "I stand ready to do that for them."

She also had a message for her detractors, "I have always said, the delegates and the comrades are not idiots, and they know good leaders when they see them."

New vice-presidents Kellier and Ferguson were also welcomed by overjoyed supporters who greeted their ascendancy with loud applause.

Dr Phillips saluted the delegates for returning him to the position and had a kind word for the losing candidates.

"I'm certain they will remain loyal and dedicated members of the party and there will be other opportunities and places to serve," he said.

The election started late despite the early registration and clearance of delegates at the National Indoor Sports Complex, next door to the National Arena where voting took place.

After polling, delegates refreshed themselves at tents provided by the five vice-presidential aspirants.

Some delegates bemoaned the fact that they did not know who Louis Moyston was and several were heard asking each other who he was.

Party chairman Robert Pickersgill said the process was disrupted by the mid-day rains.

"The rains caused a slight setback, but everything went smoothly," said Pickersgill. "The turnout was very good as you can see, and apart from issues with identification, everything went as was expected."

Voters, Pickersgill said, were asked to provide identification that is required for a general election.

Delegates voted at 39 polling stations and voting was supervised by representatives from the Electoral Office of Jamaica and PNP officials.

The party chairman predicted a bumper crowd for today's public session.

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