Hayle says she has strong backing of Phillips

Online reporter

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

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THE People's National Party (PNP) candidate for the impending St Andrew North Western by-election Keisha Hayle is adamant that she has the strong backing of party leader, Dr Peter Phillips, despite her previous criticisms of his leadership.

“He (Phillips) interviewed me himself and I am firmly backed by the PNP executive,' Hayle told the Jamaica Observer yesterday in an effort to clear the air.

The candidate, who will be vying for the seat with Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) aspirant Nigel Clarke, found herself in the hot seat after she openly criticised Phillips''s leadership on her Facebook page.

“Mr Peter Phillips, if you don't have goods to lead an effective Opposition please step aside and let someone else into the driver's seat,” Hayle wrote in a post on January 6.

“Dear Peter Phillips... Just happened to pass Old Hope Road and I am only hearing snoring. Only a bunting of hope was flying sir,” she said in an earlier post dated August 12, 2017.

However, Hayle told the Observer yesterday that she is now confident that Phillips will “take Jamaica out of the state that it is in now”.

The 42-year-old added: “I've seen how he has grown in Opposition, how astute he is with issues at hand, and his response to crime and violence in the country. I am now saying, 'This is the man that I want as my leader'.”

“I am a thinker and I have opinions and those opinions were from a while back, and anyone's opinion can change,” she continued.

Hayle also lauded Phillips's “excellent” track record as finance minister.

“He is well renowned as a person of integrity and we are seeing eye to eye on issues, and his policies are aligned with my goals,” she said yesterday.

Hayle, who is the principal of Padmore Primary School in Red Hills, St Andrew and is credited with the school's successful transformation, also addressed calls for her to resign her post in light of her political aspirations.

“I am not the first principal to go into politics and I won't be the last... Others are councillors and have gone on to be members of Parliament,” Hayle said.

However, she said she is willing to consider options that are presented to her, such as going on secondment.

Meanwhile, secretary general at the Jamaica Teachers' Association Byron Farquharson has said that the JTA does not have an issue with educators running for political office.

“However, the politics should not interfere with the quality of education offered in the institution and no one else should be forced to support the politics of the particular player, whether it is a teacher or principal,” Farquharson said.

Hayle, who is well known in the Red Hills community, said she is confident she can win the St Andrew North Western seat in the March 5 by-election.

“I think my chances are excellent because I give 100 per cent to everything and I do things from my heart,” Hayle said. “After 29 years under the JLP, North West (St Andrew) is a travesty and I want to bring true representation to the people of the constituency.”

She argued that although the JLP has held the seat for many years, “it is not a safe seat” based on the margin of victory in the 2016 general elections, which saw outgoing Member of Parliament Derrick Smith amassing 7,031 votes to the PNP's Donovan Issacs' 4,609 votes.

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