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DK says local gov't elections will be challenging for PNP

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 26, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the People's National Party (PNP) Region Six Dr D K Duncan has warned delegates that it will be very challenging for the party to retain the majority of divisions in the region in the local government polls, due next year.

Duncan told reporters after the party's Regional Executive Council (REC) meeting for Region Six at the Herbert Morrison High School in Montego Bay yesterday that the delegates were told to step up their political education campaign because retaining the majority of divisions they won in the 2012 local government election is going to be very difficult.

"It is going to be a challenge to retain them, but hopefully we are going to retain them and get the others. It is really a challenge that we must expect, or else we can make serious fundamental errors in terms of our position," Duncan stressed.

"When a party is in office it is not as easy as when we are in Opposition. We are under an IMF (International Monetary Fund) agreement, the economy is tight, we don't have the type of resources to do the things that the councillors are demanding, that the MPs (members of Parliament) are demanding, so there could be a sense of let-down among officials, so we have to step up our political education and public information campaign, so at least people can understand the context within which we are going into the elections," he explained.

Region Six comprises the western parishes of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland, where there are 38 parochial divisions.

In the last local government polls, the ruling PNP won 32 of the 38 divisions up for grabs, while the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won five. An independent candidate, Lester Crooks - a former JLP mayor - won the Riverside Division.

Meanwhile, Duncan said the party expects to finalise its slate of candidates for the upcoming polls by August 31, adding that the candidates will be presented by PNP leader Portia Simpson Miller at the party's annual conference in September.

He emphasised that all persons interested in contesting seats on the party's ticket will have to submit applications.

"Everybody will have to apply, whether they are aspirants or sitting councillors, so we are going to be accepting applications, then they will be vetted, and then selection conferences will be held. If there is only one candidate applying for a division, a selection conference will still be required where we will set a threshold for the minimum number of votes they need to get," Duncan explained.

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