Waite, Fisher pledge continued support for MP Redman in St Elizabeth NE

South Central Bureau

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Persistent reports speak to their ambitions to one day represent the People's National Party (PNP) as Member of Parliament (MP) for St Elizabeth North Eastern.

But yesterday, both former mayor of Black River, Councillor Everton Fisher (Balaclava Division) and deputy general secretary of the PNP Basil Waite told the Jamaica Observer that they remain totally “committed” to supporting incumbent Member of Parliament Evon Redman.

However, without actually saying so in as many words, both left open the possibility of offering themselves when Redman walks away.

Redman, a 65-year-old businessman who took over as MP for St Elizabeth North Eastern in the February 2016 parliamentary election and as chairman of the constituency organisation even before that, declined to comment yesterday.

It is common knowledge that the MP has made it abundantly clear to all concerned that he will not be a contestant in the next parliamentary elections, whenever they are called.

Under the Jamaican Constitution, the next parliamentary elections can be held no later than 2021 but the law allows Prime Minister Andrew Holness to send Jamaicans to the polls before that, if he so wishes.

When contacted separately yesterday, Waite and Fisher struck very similar notes, with the former recalling that in 2010 when he won the support of delegates to chair the PNP's constituency organisation and represent the party in elections, Redman was his campaign manager. As it turned out, Waite was pushed aside by the PNP's hierarchy before the December 2011 parliamentary elections and replaced by Raymond Pryce — a move that was never properly explained.

“As you know, Mr Redman was my campaign manager when I first entered that constituency (St Elizabeth North Eastern),” said Waite yesterday.

“We have a good relationship and he continues to enjoy my full support as MP. I will not speculate about the future except to say that the interest of the people of North East St Elizabeth remains my interest,” he added.

Fisher, a councillor for the Balaclava Division for more than a decade and Mayor of Black River between 2012 and 2016, also emphasised his support for Redman and insisted that currently there is no “vacancy” for chairmanship of the constituency organisation.

“The Member of Parliament has to be given time to complete his mandate. There are things that he needs to accomplish and there shouldn't be any distractions. It is not yet time to eyeball a successor,” Fisher said.

He added that “when the time comes I will listen to what the people have to say”.

St Elizabeth North Eastern is traditionally a stronghold of the PNP, which has been in opposition since February 2016. But in recent years the constituency organisation has had to deal with considerable instability.

Waite won the support of PNP delegates in 2010, after then Member of Parliament Kern Spencer had to give up leadership of the constituency organisation because he was before the court on corruption charges. Spencer was eventually cleared.

When Waite was shunted aside prior to the December 2011 elections Pryce won the seat by over 4,000 votes, reflecting a strong islandwide swing towards the PNP.

But Pryce's popularity waned rapidly and he struggled to unite Comrades behind him, leading to a challenge and eventual displacement by Redman during a period of considerable tension. Such was the level of discord that Redman won the seat in 2016 by just 1525 votes.

Two independent candidates shared 778 votes between them — most of those electors were said to be disgruntled Pryce supporters.

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