Hayles predicts PNP voters will shun turncoat councillors
BURNT SAVANNAH, Westmoreland — With local government elections due by the end of next month, Ian Hayles, one of the People’s National Party’s (PNP) four vice-presidents, is predicting that voters will stay away from turncoats who left “the party in search of power”.
He was referring to councillors Ian Myles and Garfield James who were elected on a PNP ticket to represent the Little London and Sheffield divisions in Westmoreland, respectively, but later became members of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
On Thursday, Myles confirmed to the Jamaica Observer that for the next election he and James will once again be vying to represent their old divisions, but this time on a JLP ticket.
“People that are power-hungry don’t appeal to people. It is not about the power; it is about service. So, I feel pretty comfortable,” Hayles, himself a political turncoat, having been a member of the JLP in the early 2000s, told the Observer a day earlier during a discussion about how he thinks the PNP will fare in the polls.
The Westmoreland Municipal Corporation erupted in July last year when Myles and James — as well as Councillor Lawton McKenzie (PNP, Grange Hill Division) — declared themselves independent. They later voted alongside JLP councillors to oust Councillor Danree Delancy (PNP, Bethel Town Division) as deputy mayor of Savanna-la-Mar. Myles was swiftly voted in to replace him as deputy mayor. McKenzie later returned to the PNP.
Hayles, who lost the Hanover Western seat in the November 2020 General Election and is now the PNP candidate to contest Westmoreland Western in the next parliamentary poll, has no doubt that Oliver Reid and Derrick McKenzie, who have been tapped to replace Myles and James, respectively, will return the divisions to the PNP.
“For the issues that we were having before, in terms of the two councillors that joined the Jamaica Labour Party, they were trailing in their respective divisions for the PNP. But with the candidates that we now have in place, they’re comfortably ahead,” Hayles said.
“We are out there campaigning and [the] PNP will be victorious,” he added.
He was speaking with the Observer shortly after the passing of Maxine Salabie, the PNP councillor/caretaker for the Friendship Division.
Salabie had collapsed at a party meeting on Wednesday morning, and even as they mourn her passing the PNP has to begin the hunt to find her replacement. Salabie had been the party’s pick to replace Tyrone Guthrie, after he was slapped with charges related to the abduction and rape of a 16-year-old.
Hayles stressed how important it was for the Opposition party to win in Westmoreland.
“West is important to the PNP. We feel pretty confident the people are going to vote and it’s going to be a high voter turnout and a high voter turnout benefits the PNP,” he said.