A cross of 'Faith'

A cross of 'Faith'

Manchester councillor switches to JLP

BY KASEY WILLIAMS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 10, 2020

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The Opposition People's National Party's (PNP's) majority in the Manchester Municipal Corporation was reduced to just one yesterday after Faith Sampson, councillor for the John's Hall Division in Manchester North Western, changed sides to join the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Sampson formally announced her decision at yesterday's monthly meeting of the Manchester Municipal Corporation.

“After long and hard thinking I made that decision…. At this point I wish not to list my reasons for the crossover. All I'm saying is that I crossed, but I serve my people just the same [and] even better than before,” Sampson told the Jamaica Observer following the meeting.

She appeared to suggest that there was overwhelming support for her decision in the John's Hall Division.“They are calling [and] 'WhatsApping' me. They are with me and we go on,” she said.

However, the PNP said in a statement that Sampson had switched allegiance (thereby reducing its majority to 8-7) because the party had decided to replace her as its standard bearer in local government elections due later this year.

The PNP said it informed Sampson and the John's Hall divisional executive of the decision earlier this week.

The statement claimed the three-term councillor had experienced “declining support and favourability, and a recent internal assessment confirmed that her candidacy would present a challenge for the upcoming local government election, due in November”.

The PNP said it was, therefore, not surprised by Sampson's decision to switch sides and would immediately proceed with the selection process for a new candidate in John's Hall.

“The PNP thanks Councillor Sampson for her years of service to the party and people of the John's Hall Division, and wishes her well in her endeavours,” the party's statement read.

Mayor of Mandeville and chairman of the PNP-led municipal corporation Donovan Mitchell supported the claims made in the party statement.

“Polls have been done. We are doing polls in all the constituencies and divisions. The polls came back and she had an adverse grade for performance. When that came to us, the leadership in the constituency made a recommendation [and], having shown it to her, she decided that she will not go forward. My surprise is that in not going forward she decided that she would have crossed the floor. I thought she would have sat with us until the term has been completed,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell, who is also the chairman of the PNP's campaign committee for Manchester, told the Observer that Sampson had lost touch with parts of the division considered to be PNP strongholds.

“There are strong PNP areas in her division that she has not been visiting, or if she has been doing so it is most recent. It could have been right after the polls or just before the polls, but the results would have been in already,” Mitchell said.

Contacted by telephone, Hopeton McCatty, chairman of the PNP's Region Five (Manchester and St Elizabeth), insisted that Sampson's departure will make it easier for the PNP to hold on to the John's Hall Division.

“For sure it will make the party stronger than we were before in John's Hall,” he said. “The people have made it very clear to the leadership of the party that they do not want her back,” McCatty added.

Efforts to reach Mikael Phillips, Member of Parliament for Manchester North Western, failed yesterday. Mikael Phillips is the son of PNP President Dr Peter Phillips.

Meanwhile, Sampson seemed optimistic about joining the JLP when she spoke to the Observer.

“The JLP welcomed me with open arms and my colleagues in the PNP understand why I did what I had to do,” said Sampson.

Councillor for the Trafalgar Division in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation Kari Douglas, who also switched allegiance from the PNP to the JLP earlier this year, was in Mandeville yesterday to support Sampson.

“I am here to support my colleague and sister councillor Faith Sampson in her decision to cross the political aisle this morning… She and I would have served on a certain presidential campaign team together previously while we were members of the PNP, and so we had some communication and I thought that it would have been nice to come and lend my support from one strong female to another,” said Douglas.

She appeared to suggest that effective leadership of the JLP by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and “disunity” in the PNP following last year's bitter contest for presidency of the party had contributed to decisions by herself, as well as Sampson, to switch sides.

“I think that there is a general feeling amongst us politicians and the general populace that the JLP under the leadership of Andrew Holness is the political organisation to move us forward now,” said Douglas.

“I think that the PNP continues to suffer from a very bitter disunity coming from [last year's] presidential campaign, and that in many quarters persons are still being victimised and sabotaged as a result of their choice of candidacy for president in the last presidential campaign, and so persons who supported Peter Bunting, as opposed to Dr Peter Phillips, are actually being pushed out of the PNP, and I think that, along with other contributing factors, would lead many persons to abandon their choice of supporting the PNP and turn to the JLP at this time in our country's history,” Douglas went on.

“I'm sure that the son of the president would take it more personally than anybody else that one of his councillors did not support his father. In terms of a spill [from the presidential election], yes, I don't see why not. Persons have made certain utterances and continue to promote that agenda of disunity and separation, so if you did not support my team, I really do not want to have much to do with you. And it goes further: If you did not support my team, then chances are I will not support your bid to be re-elected in my constituency in the future,” said Douglas.

Sampson told the Observer that her plan was to continue serving the John's Hall Division.

However, when asked the direct question yesterday, Mitchell said he believed that Sampson's move had placed her in the political wilderness.

“I would want to think so, but she has other choices…. She did a very good job as chairman of the poor relief committee. I wish her all the best and I will continue to support her as a councillor and as a friend,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell, however, refuted Douglas's claim of political victimisation flowing from the PNP's internal presidential election.

“I supported Peter Bunting and after everything was closed, I was asked to serve as campaign manager for the parish of Manchester. They could have found another person that supported Dr Phillips. I don't think there is any victimisation. The problem is that one must recognise that when you are elected to serve people, you must stay with the people, and do the work that the people have asked you to do with whatever limited resources you have. Once you stay with the people, you will always have the people with you,” Mitchell said.


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