Politics

Two PNP members eye Kellier's seat

Huntley Medley and MP's brother, Martin, likely to contest if incumbent steps down

BY MARK CUMMINGS
Editor-at-Large
cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 10, 2017



MONTEGO BAY, St James — At least two People's National Party (PNP) members are expressing interest in replacing veteran politician Derrick Kellier in the constituency of St James Southern, should he decide to quit representational politics.

Communications specialist and one-time press secretary for former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, Huntley Medley, and Kellier's brother, Martin Kellier, both told the Jamaica Observer on Friday that they would consider filling the void if the veteran politician, who has been representing the rural constituency since 1989, retires.

Both Martin — who is the councillor for the Welcome Hall Division in St James — and Medley made it clear, however, that there is no vacancy for the position at the moment.

“Although there is no vacancy at this time for the job, it is something I would be willing to consider. I would consider it an honour if at some time in the future I have the opportunity to represent my communities at that level,” said Medley, a native of Cambridge in the constituency.

“I have never been put in any position to consider electoral politics, but if needs be, it is something I will consider at an appropriate time. But as it is now, there has been no vacancy, but if one comes up, it is something I would consider,” he stressed.

Martin, in the meantime, emphasised that he would definitely throw his hat in the ring if his brother decides to bow out, stressing that he has been working with him for a very long time.

“Of course I would be interested if he decides to go. I have been working with him for many, many years. I came into representational politics four years ago, but I have been involved serving the people on behalf of my brother (Derrick). So when the time comes, when he throws in his towel, then at that time I will throw my hat in the ring,” said Martin, who is also a member of the party's National Executive Council.

He noted, however, that at the moment he is only doing political work in his division.

Kellier, 70, commonly referred to by his constituents as a “six-star general”, has won the St James Southern seat on the last six consecutive outings.

He has also held several key positions in Government, including minister of social security and labour, minister of agriculture and fisheries, and minister of state in the Ministry of National Security. Kellier has also served as deputy leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, and shadow minister of labour and social security.

Since the resignations of former prime minister and PNP Member of Parliament for St Andrew South Western Portia Simpson Miller, and Member of Parliament for St Andrew Southern Omar Davies earlier this year, speculation has been rife that Kellier will follow suit, or may not seek re-election at the next general election, which is constitutionally due in March 2021.

However Kellier, in an interview with the Sunday Observer recently, declined to disclose a timetable for his departure from representational politics.

“I can't predict the future, but I am always ready if needs be. I have not yet put up my gloves and I am fully prepared for whatever eventuality, but that decision is far down the road,” said Kellier.

He added, however, that “the party is grooming people to step up, and I have a lot of experience that I can pass on”.

The veteran politician, however, declined to divulge the names of the people being groomed.

Meanwhile, people in St James Southern say in recent months Medley has been quite visible in the constituency.

“He has been in the constituency a lot since the start of the year and has been involved in a number of projects, including back-to-school activities,” said a resident of Cambridge.

But Medley, who attended Cambridge Infant and Bickersteth Primary, both in the St James Southern constituency, said he has long been using his expertise to assist residents with social and economic projects.

Earlier this year, Medley was appointed CEO for the South St James Social and Economic Trust, which has undertaken a raft of projects since its inception in the 1990s.

Medley said he is hoping to revitalise the trust to better serve the needs of the constituents.

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