Politics

Duane working for big gain

Councillor hoping to replace dad Derrick Smith in Parliament

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 24, 2017



WHEN eight-term Member of Parliament for St Andrew North Western, Derrick Smith, retires from representational politics, expected within three years, his son Duane wants to replace him.

Smith, the two-term Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Chancery Hall Division in the same constituency, signalled to the Jamaica Observer in an interview last week that he is determined to succeed his father who has been in representational politics since 1980.

He cautioned, however, that this will not be an easy achievement since he would have to submit himself to the delegates of the country's ruling party and overcome the potential challenges of other party members seeking the seat — now considered a safe bet for the JLP, but which was also a safe seat for the now Opposition People's National Party before 1980.

He told the Sunday Observer that a political future for him was inevitable given that he was “born in politics”.

The 35-year-old Wolmer's Boys' School and Hillel Academy past student pursued bachelors and master's degrees in business at Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University respectively.

“I've always liked the politics. I've been around it all my life and I knew the day would come where I'd want to succeed him. In 2007, the Electoral Office of Jamaica did a boundary change. Out of that change, the constituency of North West St Andrew got an additional division. As such, I applied for the division… I went into a selection with the sitting councillor and won the selection; was a candidate and now I'm a two-term councillor with an increased majority,” Smith said.

That aside, he is aware that those looking on and speculative minds would have long latched on to talks of a calculated dynasty, but he is dismissing such thoughts.

“A lot of people looking on always seem to think that [Jamaica's] politics is made up of dynasties. But my situation is a little bit unique where my division is in my father's constituency and it is my intent, whenever that time comes, to succeed him,” Smith said, despite admitting to have got advice from his farther to stay away from politics.

“Whenever it is that the current Member of Parliament decides to step down — I don't know when that time is — I will offer myself. What he has said is that he does not intend to contest another general election. It's no secret that he has had some major health challenges for the entire year and that, among other things, he has decided that he is not seeking re-election,” the councillor in the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation shared.

Describing himself as a son of political history, he noted that he could only see himself being a part of the JLP, arguing that history would have it no other way.

He described his achievements so far as a two-term councillor as “great”.

“I have done a great job in the development of the road network. We have some bad roads in the constituency and that has been my priority. We don't have a major crime problem, but I've been focusing on infrastructure and youth development, youth employment, and we will continue doing that,” Smith said.

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