WEST Portland Member of Parliament (MP) Daryl Vaz has called for 'freedom of choice' for all Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors and delegates involved in deciding the party's leader at next month's leadership election.
Vaz made the call after two prominent councillors in his constituency — former mayors of Port Antonio and current JLP members of the Portland Parish Council, Floyd Patterson (St Margaret's Bay) and Rupert Kelly (Hope Bay) — announced Sunday that they were siding with party leader Andrew Holness in the leadership race scheduled for the party's annual conference on November 10.
A prominent supporter of Holness's opponent Audley Shaw, Vaz said that he was proud to support democracy, in theory and practice, and has never sought to suppress support for others from his councillors, delegates or constituents.
"I am confident that because of my stewardship and leadership of West Portland, as a fair-minded MP, that the vast majority of delegates will support my choice of Mr Audley Shaw, not through fear or threats by me, but on their own decision as delegates on November 10," he stated.
A release from Holness's camp on Sunday said that the Opposition leader's Team JLP engagement of local representatives, over the past few weeks, has been paying dividends in various area councils, including Area Council 2 (Portland, St Catherine, St Mary and St Thomas), one of the strongest regions of JLP support.
"Mr Holness has been accounting for his stewardship since assuming office as party leader, in addition to sharing with them his vision, programme of work and plans for the future," the release stated.
Councillor Kelly said that a caucus of delegates in Portland have shown that they are resolutely endorsing Holness to be returned as party leader in November.
"We have been inspired by Mr Holness's resolve to transform the political landscape in this country, and chart a course that will encourage that much more Jamaicans to come off the fence and get involved in the political process,"Kelly stated.
He said that Holness has only been at the helm for two years, and deserves an opportunity to mould the party and carry out the necessary reforms.
"We, in Portland, have every confidence that when the party leader completes his various meetings and campaign rallies, the already upbeat delegates will be coming out in their numbers on Sunday, November 10, to keep Bustamante's legacy alive by voting Andrew Holness, securing his return as leader of our beloved party," Kelly asserted.
The JLP has three councillors in West Portland — Patterson, Kelly and Gloria Silvera (Buff Bay) — while the People's National Party's (PNP) Hopeton Molloy represents the fourth division, Balcarres. It is not known where Silvera's support lies.
The Team JLP release also stated that Holness has secured support from "an overwhelming number of Councillors and Councillor/Caretakers in the party's Area Council 2".