Daniella favoured for St Andrew Eastern
POLITICAL newcomer Daniella Hickling has been given a lifeline by the Secretariat of the People’s National Party (PNP) in her bid to become its candidate for the St Andrew Eastern constituency.
Hickling applied to be the PNP’s standard-bearer in the constituency in the next general election but, as the sole aspirant, she failed to get the necessary 50 per cent plus one votes — which she needed to be confirmed as the candidate — in a selection exercise last month.
Hickling received 73 ‘yes’ votes from the delegates while 96 voted ‘no’, but the Secretariat has decided not to use that as the final determination.
“Daniella has been given three months and a programme of work which she has to complete to prove that she is right for the job,” a PNP source recently told the Jamaica Observer.
“This is unusual but not unprecedented as it is clear that she is getting traction on the ground, so the party does not want to close the door on her unless it becomes absolutely necessary,” added the source.
Hickling’s failure to get the needed 50 per cent plus one votes in the selection exercise seemed to have opened the door for businessman and former Member of Parliament for the constituency Andre Hylton to return to his old stomping ground.
Hylton had previously represented the constituency from 2011 to 2016 after he defeated the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Dr Saphire Longmore by just more than 250 votes in his first bid at representational politics.
He failed to retain the seat in the 2016 General Election losing to the then JLP newcomer Fayval Williams. Following that defeat Hylton headed to St James Central where he was trounced by the JLP’s Heroy Clarke in 2020.
Late last month Hylton told the Observer that people from the constituency have been calling for his return and he made the decision to answer their call.
“I would call it a homecoming. As you know, I was the Member of Parliament from 2011 to 2016 and we lost the seat by 157 votes [161 according to the Electoral Commission of Jamaica] and the people have been calling me to come back and, with the support of our party leader [Mark Golding] and general secretary [Dr Dayton Campbell], I will be back and I think we will be victorious in the next general election.
“It is a seat that the People’s National Party must win and I am going to do all that I can, with the support of my team, the people, and the party’s leadership and I know we will be victorious. We have done it already and we will do it again,” Hylton said in that late August interview.
But on Sunday, scores of delegates from the constituency turned out at the public session of the PNP’s Annual Conference at the National Arena indicating their support for Hickling.
The vocal delegates, clad in T-shirts bearing Hickling’s image with the slogan, “Daniella with the people of Eastern St Andrew”, were adamant that she is the only aspirant and the person they want as their next candidate.
According to one delegate, while it is correct that they had called on Hylton to return to contest the seat, he indicated that he had no interest in St Andrew Eastern so they had moved on.
“Daniella did not get the 50+1 vote because some people voted ‘no’ without even knowing what they were voting for. They only got a call to vote ‘no’ and they voted that way,” said one particularly vocal delegate who was inside the National Arena long before the start of the public session.
“We are working with Daniella and she will take back the seat for the PNP,” added the delegate as she pointed out that Hickling’s supporters were from all sections of the constituency.