Charles explains winning strategy, plans for St Thomas Eastern

BY CANDIECE KNIGHT
Staff reporter
knightc@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

FIRST-TIME Member of Parliament-elect Dr Michelle Charles has big plans for St Thomas Eastern. Yesterday, as she looked back at the strategy that led her to victory over six-time MP Dr Fenton Ferguson, she also outlined a clear vision of what she intends to do for the people of her constituency.

“I moved back home to St Thomas from 2017, and I began active political work when I became coordinator in August 2018,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “I did traditional house-to-house visits, and had meetings with young people. I visited several churches. I supported persons by attending funerals and grave diggings and nine nights. I delivered care packages to the elderly and held several free back-to-school medicals… I just allowed persons to get to know me and understand that I'm here to stay.”

And even after her victory on election night, she was busy trying to figure out how she could improve living conditions for her constituents.

“A 107,000 gallon water tank was recently installed at Top House, Prospect. It needs to be sterilised, and the pipes are to be connected. This is a project we will be working on first with Mayor Michael Hue. I am writing to the authorities as soon as all is settled,” she told the Observer then.

In addition to water, Charles has plans to improve housing in Eastern St Thomas.

“On my walks I met several older persons living in unstable, deplorable structures. They requested ply and zinc to help with repair, but they are too old to do the work,” she lamented. “I have decided to train 20 young persons per division on how to build a stable structure. Then we will begin to spruce up St Thomas Eastern. We will demolish the old structures and rebuild in a week to assist the persons chosen. This will also provide short-term jobs for the youth involved, and I want this to be an ongoing project.”

She did take some time to savour her historic victory, however.

“I've been a dentist for 25 years and this is the sweetest extraction I've ever done!” she said. Charles, a dental surgeon, is the daughter of retired politician Pearnel Charles Senior. She reclaimed the seat her father lost to Ferguson 27 years ago. She won by a margin of 734 votes, based on the preliminary count.

“St Thomas has erupted! We were quite confident as we walked the ground but we kept it silent, because we had so many people that really, really wanted to change, and wanted to be on the prosperity train, so we just kept working and working, and we're very happy to be the ones chosen,” a jubilant Charles told the Observer as she marched through her newly claimed territory after the results were announced last Thursday.

Her father, who retired from being an MP and the Speaker of the House of Parliament earlier this year, said having both his children, as well as his party win the election, felt unreal. His son Pearnel Charles Jr took the Clarendon South Eastern seat.

“Some amazing things have happened, and I can't believe this is actual or it's a dream,” said Charles Sr. “My prayer was 'Lord, I could never be that ambitious to ask you for all of this one time, so I have to thank you.' And a really amazing thing has happened.”

The former speaker shared that he had considered the possibility that the election results could be a mixture of wins and losses for his children and his party, and he admitted that he would have been content if his party won but his children lost. Never had he imagined they would all win.

This first-time victory by Michelle Charles allowed for the entire parish of St Thomas to be repainted green, as the JLP's James Robertson secured his fifth-consecutive term at the polls in St Thomas Western.

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