Hutchinson eyes JLP job; Bartlett ponders
BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
A decision is likely today regarding who will be the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) next deputy leader for Area Council 4, as members of the party's leadership in the region are expected to meet to discuss the issue.
Deadline for nominations for the position is next Thursday, December 26 and, if more than one person is nominated by then, there would be a run-off on January 26. Area Council 4 is comprised of - St James, St Elizabeth, Hanover, Westmoreland and Trelawny.
However, the Jamaica Observer understands that while agriculture spokesman JC Hutchinson, the Member of Parliament for North West St Elizabeth, has emerged as the likely successor, former general secretary and deputy leader, Edmund Bartlett (East Central St James), continues to weigh his options.
Bartlett told the Sunday Observer on Friday, that while he is being encouraged by some Labourites to take up the challenge, he is unwilling to engage in another divisive leadership race so quickly after last month's leadership election.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, who was supported by Hutchinson, easily trounced former deputy leader for Area Council 3, Audley Shaw, who was backed by Bartlett, in the November 10 election. Remnants of Holness' Team JLP, which took him to victory last month, supports Hutchinson, are already solidifying for a possible challenge from Bartlett, and are counting on Holness' margin of victory last month to safely take him home.
Bartlett's supporters, on the other hand, believe that his experience as a former general secretary and deputy leader should not be ignored.
Former senator Dr Christopher Tufton pulled out of the Area Council Four race for deputy leader, following the recent leadership election, in which he had supported Shaw. He was later forced to leave the Senate, leaving no discernible successor in the west. However, since then, Hutchinson has emerged as his likely successor.
"I would only be interested in the position, if both teams (Holness/Shaw) are comfortable with it. Otherwise it would only be a signal for further disintegration," Bartlett said. "It would be good to have a consensus, to signal a return to unity within the party."
In the meantime, in another effort to bolster attempts at reuniting the party following the recent challenge, the JLP has co-opted 10 members to serve on its powerful Central Executive. They represent a mix of persons who supported either Holness or Shaw in the leadership race.
Seventeen persons were nominated from which the 10 were selected. The 10 are: Alston Douglas, Delano Seiveright, Russell Hadeed, Joseph Issa, Ian Murray, Harold Brady, John Myers, Tyrone Robinson, Mark Azan and Pauline Reynolds.