FRONT-RUNNERS Horace Chang and Robert "Bobby" Montague easily won election yesterday as general secretary and chairman, respectively, of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Their election, as well as that of a number of other members to leading roles in the internal bureaucracy, completed the leadership selection process which began with the election of four deputy leaders at the November 18 annual conference.
A large crowd of green-clad labourites filled the premises and outside Belmont Road, although only 163 delegates were eligible to participate. But despite the large crowd there was no tension, as the faithful calmly accepted the developments while downing the usual conference delights of corn, soup and liquor provided outside the gates by itinerant vendors.
Dr Chang, a veteran from 1980 and Member of Parliament (MP) for North West St James, scored 86 votes to his sole rival, Joan Gordon Webley's 58; while Montague scored 68 votes to beat out his rivals -- Edmund Bartlett, 41; Derrick Smith, 30; and Delroy Chuck, five. Former general secretary, Aundre Franklin, garnered 88 votes to defeat his rival, Senator Arthur Williams for the post of deputy chairman.
Four deputy general secretaries were elected in Dr Andrew Wheatley, MP for South Central St Catherine; former MP Dr St Aubyn Bartlett; and former councillors Homer Davis and Audley Gordon.
North Central St Andrew MP Karl Samuda, and former MP Michael Stern were elected unopposed as treasurer and deputy treasurer after the withdrawal of Phillip Henriques and MP Gregory Mair from the race.
Five trustees were also selected in Central St Catherine MP Olivia "Babsy" Grange, who will also chair the public relations committee; MP Rudyard Spencer (South East Clarendon), Oswald Harding, Enid Bennett, and Dorothy Carter Bradford.
George Soutar, who headed the election-monitoring team of lawyers, which also included senators Tom Tavares Finson and Kamina Johnson-Smith, said that the election process followed the pattern laid down by the Electoral Office of Jamaica.
"I think we can take credit in this election. It was transparent, in all respects, and it was fair, and in the event the results have been accepted by everyone," Soutar said.
Chang, meanwhile, said he felt that the team chosen was equal to the task of rebuilding the party.
Senator Montague said that the party had passed the test of electing its leaders fairly and peacefully with full marks, and would now focus on putting its team into the field.
"The JLP has now began the process of putting forward a credible alternative to the Government, and we will be having a retreat pretty soon to discuss those matters," he said.