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Three apply for Tufton’s old seat, says Hutchinson

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

Monday, May 05, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Deputy leader in charge of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Area Council Four, JC Hutchinson, has said that so far three persons have applied to become the party's standard bearer in the South West St Elizabeth constituency, which has been vacated by former high-profile Cabinet minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

Hutchinson, however, declined to name the applicants.

"So far we have three applicants, but I can't tell you their names right now. That's all I will say," Hutchinson told the Jamaica Observer on Saturday.

When pressed for details, he pointed out that the applicants were all businessmen, adding that one of them had unsuccessfully contested a parliamentary seat.

Earlier this year, Dr Tufton, a former senator and minister of agriculture and fisheries, resigned as the party's caretaker for South West St Elizabeth, following the bitter leadership race between Opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw and party leader Andrew Holness.

Dr Tufton had openly supported Shaw, who was rejected by the delegates for the party's top post.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson told the Observer that by the end of this month, the party should have in place 59 of its 62 regional representatives who will contest the local government polls, due in March next year.

"All the selections will be done by the end of May, except three, which are the Ipswich, Siloah and Balaclava divisions in St Elizabeth, where we don't have any applicants right now," Hutchinson, a veteran politician, told the Observer.

He said that so far, the party had confirmed 56 parish council divisional representatives in Area Council Four, adding that selections will be held in three other divisions over the next three weeks.

Area Council Four embraces the western parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, and St Elizabeth.

In the 2012 local government elections, the JLP won 15 of the 62 parochial divisions in western Jamaica, the ruling People's National Party (PNP) got 45, while two independent candidates — Lester Crooks, a former JLP mayor and Paul Patmore — won their respective parochial seats.

Last year, however, one of the JLP councillors, Lloyd Gillings of the Albert Town Division in Trelawny, crossed the floor and joined the governing PNP.

Hutchinson, a former chairman of Area Council Four, who is now serving his fifth term as a parliamentarian, predicted that his party will do exceedingly well, whenever the local government elections are held.

"We are going to win much

more than many people expect because the next time around we will be very organised," he argued.

"The structures in each division are already in place and we are giving our candidates enough time before the elections are called to get to know the people," said Hutchinson, who in January succeeded Dr Tufton, as the party's deputy leader for Area Council Four.

He stressed that whenever all of the party's representatives are selected, the party will not entertain anymore applications in the Area Council.

"Once we put them in place, that is it. We will take absolutely no other applications," the veteran politician emphasised.

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