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Yallahs stays in the JLP's corner

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 29, 2018

YALLAHS square in Western St Thomas was transformed into a sea of green Friday evening, after the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) secured one of its largest margins of victory over the People's National Party (PNP) in the by-election to fill a seat in the local municipality.

The JLP's John Lee won the seat by over 500 votes, polling 1,859 votes to the 1,338 gained by the PNP's Constantine Bogle.

Lee, who was confident going into the election, thanked the people for their support and promised not to disappoint them.

“Your actions show that I am capable enough to handle your concerns going forward,” Lee told them.

The 31-year-old councillor-elect said the PNP should be on alert.

“Good night, everyone! And the reason why I said good night everyone is because there are some solid PNP weh mek the PNP them know say next general election dem in a trouble,” Lee said to the amusement of the crowd.

Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, who prefaced his comments by saying that he was not being mischievous, warned that he would be taking the necessary steps to return the Yallahs Market to the vendors.

“Him run the people dem out of the market and tun it in a junkyard and I'm not making no mischeif. I am warning him, I am putting them on notice. By all means, legally, we going to get back that market for the vendors,” McKenzie told the cheering crowd, in reference to the market that was leased to Bogle earlier.

McKenzie, while congratulating Lee, said that Bogle's description of the people of Yallahs as illiterate and his personal use of the market accounted for his defeat.

“The second thing why the people vote them out is this: How can a man who want you vote look pon unnuh and tell unnuh, unnuh cyaah read and write, unnuh a dunce? Mr Constantine or Constanteen Bogle, whatever his name is, I want him to see weh dunce people do to him today inna Yallahs.”

Earlier in the day when the Jamaica Observer visited polling stations in the division, residents voiced their displeasure about Bogle''s continued use of the market to operate his used parts business while vendors are left to ply their wares on the street side.

“'Con' is not working. Him no come around the people dem,” 63-year-old Catherine Cunningham said.

“We want the market back, and if we nuh get rid of him we not going to get back the market. We tired to see the people on the road selling. We want Mr Lee; him more interested. His wife came to my home and we had a good conversation,” Cunningham reasoned before she went inside the Yallahs Baptist Church.

Farmer Nathan Lynch, 73, told the Sunday Observer that after Bogle took over the market he had to be seeking alternative venues to sell his produce.

“We use to sell in the market and from the man (Bogle) win when PNP was in power, true him was the councillor, him say him lease the market and him not coming out. All we beg him fi come out him say him not coming out,” Lynch said, adding that if the market was open to the vendors he would not have to go to Kingston and Linstead in St Catherine to sell or trade his produce.

Member of Parliament for St Thomas Western James Robertson, who also addressed Labourites, credited Friday's victory to the foundation laid by former politician, Errol Anderson.

However, Robertson said the party's legacy was destroyed by the PNP in the 1990s.

“... But I will tell you where we are in the east, it is for the first time since the real Bogle, our hero from the east Paul Bogle ... that the east is getting a fair share and the respect from Government — and that is coming now with the highway from Harbour View to Morant Bay, Morant Bay to Cedar Valley, Morant Bay to Port Antonio,” Robertson said.

Robertson also assured the constituents that the town centre slated to be built at the former Goodyear factory will benefit the parish.

Bogle, who earlier seemingly sensed defeat, alleged on Friday that at least two JLP supporters attempted to vote under fictitious names in the by-election.

According to Bogle, individuals were leaving other parishes to vote in the division.

“It was reported to me that they attempted to vote in another person's name. I am wondering why they are not arrested,” Bogle said then.

He also complained about a “bus load of supporters” who came from other parishes to support the JLP candidate.

However, Bogle could not prove that the supporters were there to vote.

When the Sunday Observer contacted the Electoral Office of Jamaica, it said that it had not received any such reports.

Bogle lost the November 2016 Local Government Election to the JLP's Dean Jones.

The seat became vacant after Jones was disqualified, following a ruling by the Supreme Court.

According to the High Court, Jones' disqualification was on the grounds that, at the time of the November 2016 Local Government Election, he was a civil servant, which is not allowed under Jamaican law.

A total of 9,145 people were on the voters' list in the Yallahs Division.