UPDATE: ‘She would have been victorious’
WESTMORELAND, Jamaica— With the local government election expected to be held within months, the sudden death of Councillor Candidate for the Friendship Division in the constituency of Westmoreland Western, Maxine Salabie, has sent shockwaves across the constituency.
Vice President of the People’s National Party (PNP) Ian Hayles expressed that Salabie would have been victorious in the upcoming polls.
Salabie died on Wednesday morning after collapsing at a party meeting.
“She would have been victorious because she is a crossover candidate. She appealed to both sides of the fence and I think that was one of her strengths,” Hayles said of the late Salabie in an interview with the Observer Online on Wednesday evening.
Hayles said the late PNP standard-bearer was a great person who served the party well.
“She had issues with the road, water and infrastructure and she thought she could go forward and serve the PNP, and correct those things in her community,” he said of the work she had planned.
Salabie’s colleague, councillor caretaker Abigail Malcolm [People’s National Party, Cornwall Mountain Division], said that she complained of feeling unwell while delivering her speech.
“When you walk in that room today, there was a rose that stood out and that was comrade Salabie. She was in high spirits but a second after we realised something was wrong and she complained of not feeling well while giving her speech, and that was it,” Malcolm said while fighting to hold back tears.
Malcolm said her colleagues worked hard in getting Salabie to the hospital as she lauded the Savanna-la-Mar hospital staff for trying to save the late comrade’s life.
Hayles, who is also the member of Parliament aspirant for Westmoreland Western, in reflecting on the work Salabie has done, stated that politics is no easy feat.
“Politics is stressful, very stressful and she was doing a lot in the December month. She increased her workload. She’s out there working every day,” the constituency chairman added, noting that Salabie held close to 10 Christmas treats in her community.
He further recounted the tragic moment leading up to her untimely death.
“I talked to her this morning and she said she is planning for the week. We were in a meeting this morning. We were auditing the parish of Westmoreland because the parish is important to the fortunes of the party. We were in an auditing meeting from 10 o’clock and that’s where she died,” a distraught Hayles told Observer Online.
But with the local government election soon to be announced, Hayles said “it is back to the drawing boards”, for the party.
Her death, he said, is “a setback for a comeback.”
He however revealed confidently that the PNP will win, and will see a high voter turnout for the next local government election.
Meanwhile, Franz Collins, Salabie’s cousin, described her as humble and a ‘standout in the family’.
“She was an inspiration and it is a major loss so early in the year for the family,” he said.
Salabie, who is said to be in her early 50s, died just months after replacing PNP’s councillor caretaker Tyrone Guthrie who was charged with the alleged forcible abduction and rape of a 16-year-old.
– Kimberley Peddie