ST THOMAS, Jamaica — The two candidates contesting the April 27 by-election in the Yallahs Division of St Thomas Western were yesterday nominated amid little fanfare.
The Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) John Lee and the People's National Party's (PNP) Constantine Bogle were nominated at the Yallahs Baptist Church Hall.
The division was made vacant following a ruling by the Supreme Court that the previous councillor for the division, the JLP's Dean Jones, had been disqualified.
Jones, who up until Monday was the JLP's candidate, declined to give a comment about his decision to step aside as chairman of the division on the eve of Nomination Day.
“No, no, no. I have no comment,” Jones told the Jamaica Observer.
According to the High Court, Jones' disqualification was on the grounds that, at the time of the November 2016 Local Government Elections, he was employed to the Government.
He was, however, the witness to the nomination of vice-chairman of the division Lee, a man party stalwarts have described as “a son of Yallahs”.
Lee was accompanied to the nomination centre by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, new Transport Minister Robert Montague, and other members of the party executive.
Following his nomination, he told the Observer that he plans to “continue the work” of Jones.
“It's already there. Victory is already there. You can feel it in the atmosphere. Coming in at the moment now you know Mr Dean Jones has left stuff on the table, so it's to tidy up and get things going forward. The blueprint is already there,” he said, adding that Jones' work is visible to residents.
Lee was nominated shortly after one o'clock. His nomination fee was paid with 15 $1,000 notes.
Meanwhile, his opponent Bogle, who was the incumbent before the November 2016 Local Government Election, accused the JLP of exploiting people.
Bogle, who was speaking to the Observer after completing his nomination process, said a lot of people in the division are unable to read and, because of economic plight, they are easily exploited by the JLP.
“People just exploit them and wait on the last two days before the election. I don't hold down my mouth and say it, the Jamaica Labour Party is guilty of this in a very serious kind of way. Something must be done with this; this democracy is for sale,” insisted Bogle, who was accompanied to the nomination centre by party Chairman Fitz Jackson, General Secretary Julian Robinson, and other members of the party.
At the same time, he expressed confidence about claiming the division, which would give the PNP the majority in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation.
“Without confidence you are twice defeated in the race. I just do what I have to do. I don't know nothing about John Lee, but I have been giving service to the people of Yallahs and the people of St Thomas for a countless amount of years now,” he said.
His nomination fee was paid using three $5,000 notes.
A total of 31 polling stations situated across seven voting locations will be used in the division, while 83 Election Day workers will be required to conduct the election with a budget of $9.5 million that has been allocated to the Electoral Commission.
In the meantime, two other candidates were nominated in Clarendon to contest the by-elections scheduled for April 27 in the May Pen North Division. In that division, the JLP's Tanya-Lee Williams will face off with the PNP's Earl Blake.