Newcomer replaces Sampson as PNP standard-bearer for John's Hall

Newcomer replaces Sampson as PNP standard-bearer for John's Hall

Observer writer

Thursday, August 06, 2020

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Businessman Devon Wilson has been named as the new People's National Party (PNP) standard-bearer for the John's Hall d ivision of the Manchester North Western constituency.

This follows Councillor Faith Sampson's switch of allegiance to the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) last month.

Chairman for the PNP's region five, Hopeton McCatty, told the Jamaica Observer by telephone that Wilson was one of three aspirants who had applied for the post.

“Three people applied and the party has an internal process that people go through, and the party went through its internal process with the three people and Wilson was chosen as the candidate… We moved very fast, so within less than two weeks we were able to have the replacement,” McCatty said.

“We had a workers' meeting where all the aspirants were able to be introduced, and since that time, he [Wilson] has been selected and what we are now doing is that he is going around and walking in the communities, meeting the people,” McCatty added.

Wilson, who is a newcomer to the political arena, told the Observer that he has a strong presence in the Manchester North Western constituency through his involvement in sporting activities.

“I am involved mostly in sporting activities, including football, netball and cricket, and I am an events planner as well… I saw where there was a lack of representation for the people in the John's Hall division [and] being that it is a farming area, with most people there dependent on farming, there are a lot of resources that were available for the people, but no one was campaigning on their behalf,” Wilson said in giving his reason for entering politics.

“I have always been going into the area [for] farming and sporting activities, and being involved with the Social Development Commission (SDC) and as an event planner, so I have always interacted with the people through different parties and sessions,” he added.

The former high school teacher and ex-cop, who served as a constable for 14 years, said he saw it fit to apply for the position following three-term Councillor Sampson's decision to switch sides.

“When the present councillor resigned and stepped across, I saw it as an opportunity now to make proper representation for the people,” he said.

Sampson, who had won the division on a PNP ticket by a margin of 134 in the November 2016 local government election, said she has been receiving “overwhelming” support.

“Everything is going good, better than I thought it would. It has been overwhelming… The confidence I am going with is like the first time when I went out there, [and], at that time, I gave up my job on Nomination Day, not knowing what was going to happen, and it's the same confidence and God's blessings that I am going with this time,” Sampson told the Observer by telephone.

Wilson also described public response to him as “overwhelming”, and expressed confidence he will take the division back to the PNP's winning column. The party now holds eight of the 15 divisions in Manchester.

“The support on the ground has been overwhelming... it causes tears to come to my eyes at times. Sometimes I can't believe that the love is that real in the John's Hall division,” he said.

“One of my mandates is to see to the upgrading of all playfields in the area, then from there we could have sporting activities on a regular basis and link with the other councillors within the constituency and have an inter-division competition, and then an inter-constituency [competition],” he said.

When asked how confident the PNP is about retaining the division, McCatty said: “We are extremely confident. One of the reasons Ms Sampson is no longer the candidate is because she was not serving the people as she should. We have no fear of her candidacy at all, or any other Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate.”

Mikael Phillips, Member of Parliament for Manchester North Western, is pleased with the new candidate.

“We are happy with the replacement… He [Wilson] is a businessman in the Mile Gully community ever since I have been here, since 2009, I have been working with him as a community member [and] as a business person in the Mile Gully area,” Phillips said.

The MP predicted that the PNP will win all four divisions: John's Hall, Mile Gully, Spur Tree, and New Green, regardless of whether the next local government election is run on the same day as the parliamentary poll, as has been suggested may happen, or separately.

“If it comes together, we (PNP) are going to carry home the four divisions in North West Manchester. If it comes separately, we are still going to carry home the four divisions,” he said.

Former deputy mayor and councillor for the Spur Tree division Irvin Facey (PNP) and councillor for the New Green division McArthur Collins (PNP) will not be seeking re-election.

Andrew Smith has been selected as the PNP standard-bearer, replacing Collins, while Lenroy James is replacing Facey.

Deputy mayor of Mandeville and councillor for the Mile Gully division Rohan Kennedy (PNP) is vying for his second term.

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