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Powell, Buchanan shape up for Hutchinson's scalp

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 27, 2014    

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — An intriguing contest is brewing for leadership of the ruling People's National Party (PNP) constituency organisation in North West St Elizabeth.

PNP councillor for the Malvern Division in South East St Elizabeth and former West Indies cricketer Daren Powell and Duncan 'Junior' Buchanan, son of the late Cabinet Minister Donald Buchanan are the confirmed front-runners for chairmanship of the constituency organisation.

Buchanan is also an older brother of the Member of Parliament for South West St Elizabeth Hugh Buchanan, and his mother Dorothy is a former PNP councillor for the Brompton division.

A third person, Everton Hannam, secretary general of the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO - an agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture — and head of the National Parent/Teachers Association who was said to be "interested" in the constituency chairmanship, downplayed those reports yesterday.

He told the Jamaica Observer by telephone that his work on the ground in the constituency had been "purely exploratory".

"I was only exploring my options," he said. He seemed to suggest that his interest had waned.

The NW St Elizabeth constituency, long considered a strong Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) seat, is represented by JC Hutchinson. The latter repelled the challenge of the PNP's Richard Rowe by 866 votes in the December 2011 parliamentary election.

Political analysts agree that while the chairman of a constituency organisation is not always the candidate selected to represent the party in elections, that person does have a "big advantage". Parliamentary elections become constitutionally due in late 2016, although the prime minister does have the right to announce election dates at any time.

In the case of NW St Elizabeth, current chairman for the PNP's organisation, Hopeton McCatty told the Sunday Observer that he will be standing down at the constituency conference in July/August.

McCatty was assigned to bring order to the constituency organisation in mid-2013 by the PNP's Region Five Chairman Senator Wensworth Skeffery, following reports of discord, disunity and paralysis within the leadership of the organisation.

McCatty told the Sunday Observer that he was fully satisfied with the work he and his team had done since he took up his assignment in August/September of last year.

"We are well ahead of our objectives in terms of rebuilding the constituency organisation. I will walk away confident that we can

move forward from here," McCatty said.

Both Powell and Buchanan told the Sunday Observer that they had been motivated by what they perceived to be an inadequacy of political representation in North West St Elizabeth.

Powell, who defeated the JLP's Donald Simpson for the Malvern division in the Local Government election of early 2012, said that his interest in NW St Elizabeth had solidified down the years after watching at close quarters the situation there.

"I believe there are many opportunities to help to change the lives of people and more so the youngsters," said the 36-year-old Powell who represented the West Indies in 37 Test matches as a fast bowler.

"I want to make a difference in people's lives," Powell asserted.

Buchanan, who spoke to the Sunday Observer by telephone from overseas, described NW St Elizabeth as an "under-represented constituency". He wanted to give the people "a voice", he said.

Buchanan said that his personal philosophy required him to be 'involved in representational politics at this time" and NW St Elizabeth was the appropriate place to serve.

Also, he said, he wanted to "honour" his father. "He (Donald Buchanan) taught me everything I know about politics and he influenced me," he said.

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