Clean Sweep!

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Clean Sweep!

JLP's Lawrence helps party to take all parliamentary seats in its Area Council Four

Thursday, September 17, 2020

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland - When the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Daniel Lawrence was declared the victor at the end of a judicial recount for the Westmoreland Eastern seat on Tuesday, it meant that his party had taken a clean sweep of all the five parishes in the JLP's Area Council Four in the September 3 General Election.

Lawrence won the highly coveted seat by 11 votes over the People's National Party's (PNP) Luther Buchanan at the recount held at the Westmoreland Parish Court in Savanna-la-Mar, which was presided over by Parish Judge Steve Walters.

Lawrence polled a total of 4,862 votes in comparison to Buchanan's 4,851. Independent candidate Haile Mika'el received 36 votes.

A total of 28 previously rejected ballots were accepted on behalf of Lawrence and 18 for Buchanan during the recount, from the 117 boxes counted.

Veteran politician JC Hutchinson, who is the JLP deputy leader in charge of the party's Area Council Four, which covers the parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover, Westmoreland and St Elizabeth where there are 16 parliamentary seats, said he was not surprised at Lawrence's victory.

“I wasn't surprised. Based on the organisation on the ground and the work that was put in by our team we knew that our candidate would have won,” Hutchinson told the Jamaica Observer West yesterday.

In fact, following a JLP central executive meeting in St James three weeks before the general election, Hutchinson predicted that his party would make a clean sweep of all the parishes in Area Council Four, except Westmoreland, “where we are looking at taking at least two of the three seats”.

The seat that Hutchinson said he was not sure of winning then was Westmoreland Western, which was at that time represented by PNP Vice-President Dr Wykeham McNeill.

McNeill was, however, defeated by newcomer to representational politics, the JLP's Morland Wilson.

As Lawrence emerged for the Savanna-la-Mar courthouse on Tuesday following the declaration of the seat in his favour, he was congratulated by jubilant JLP supporters who had gathered on the outside of the facility in anticipation of a victory.

A supporter from Darliston in the constituency, who gave her name only as Merry, told the Observer West that she is excited to see the JLP taking home the seat for the first time in 40 years.

“This is more than tongue can really talk about now, because we are very happy about it. Almost all my life, and I am now 56 years old, I have seen the PNP ruled in Westmoreland, and I have seen nothing much done. Our great PJ Patterson, he was our MP for Darliston and we have seen nothing much. Mr Buchanan took over and we have seen nothing. So, we needed a change and the people gave it to Mr Lawrence,” expressed an elated Merry.

“I think it is well-deserved and a hard fought one…it is a good victory.”

Franz Collins, another supporter who says he is a member of G2K, the professional youth arm of the JLP, said even though he is from the Westmoreland Western constituency, he had to come out to support the man, who he says, deserves a chance.

“He [Lawrence] is a very kind and humble gentleman. He deserves a chance because it could be for the better, and I believe in giving him a chance to prove himself, and I am pretty sure that he will make a difference in some way, shape and form,” Collins argued.

He added that “he knows that if he doesn't perform, Jamaica is not a diehearted country anymore, so they will vote him out.”

A seemingly dejected PNP supporter of a Big Woods address in Westmoreland, who gave her name as Karlene Robinson, told the Observer West that despite the loss, she is still proud of Buchanan. As such, Robinson said she will continue to support him.

At the same time, Robinson is of the opinion that her three-term outgoing MP, who took over the seat from former Prime Minister PJ Patterson in 2006, was robbed of the seat.

“It is the first him lose, but mi know sey a thief them thief him up,” stated the PNP supporter, who failed to substantiate her claim.

Lawrence said the constituents decided to give him the nod due to the lack of representation over the years.

“I met with the people and let them know that I am from the constituency, and so I know the lack of representation, and I give them hope,” he told the Observer West.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson said the JLP has already started to strategise how to make a clean sweep of the divisions in the upcoming local government election.

“ We have already met with some of the MPs, the councillors and the councillor/caretakers as we put our organisational structures in place, because we are going after all the divisions in Area Council Four. One thing is sure and is that we will gain control of all the municipal corporations,” said Hutchinson, who is also the MP for St Elizabeth North Western and state minister in the Ministry of Transport and Mining

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