Venesha takes aim at Fayval in St Andrew EasternTuesday, August 18, 2020
BY ARTHUR HALL
HAVING served as the councillor for the Papine Division in St Andrew Eastern since 2012, Venesha Phillips believes she is ready for the big times and that she has what it takes to defeat incumbent Fayval Williams when the votes are counted on September 3.
“The deficit, in terms of leadership in Eastern St Andrew, is all around for all of us to see. Unfortunately, we have not had the kind of leadership and investment in the constituency that would allow us to maximise our true potential as a constituency that is rich in so many ways,” Phillips told the Jamaica Observer yesterday as she prepared to be nominated on the People's National Party's (PNP's) ticket today.
The Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP's) Williams defeated the PNP's Andre Hylton, the then sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew Eastern, by 161 votes in 2016, but Phillips is confident that she can reverse the result this time around.
According to Phillips, Williams has failed as an MP, and the mood in the constituency shows that the people are ready for a change.
“The MP has been saying that 'one good term deserves another', and I agree with her, but she hasn't given us a good term,” declared Phillips, who has a law degree and is now completing her postgraduate degree in criminality and law.
“She [Williams] is basically outing herself. If she had delivered she would be deserving of a second term, but she knows that it has not been a good term for her. We have not seen any training of our young people and we have seen more unemployment under her more than at any other time.
“I must commend the previous MP, Andre Hylton, who started a job club which was able to empower and really assist young people to give them a sense of purpose. In terms of education, one of her predecessors, St Aubyn Bartlett from her own party, had a very good programme in the constituency and she never continued that,” charged Phillips.
The PNP standard-bearer argued that part of the remit of an MP is to continue and strengthen successful programmes in their constituency.
“She disregarded the good things about those who were before her, and I believe for that she would have scored very low,” charged Phillips, while criticising Williams for not engaging the residents, the police and the social agencies to address the crime issues that have plagued sections of the constituency.
Phillips argued that the failure of Williams as an MP has been underscored by the number of senior members of the JLP who have visited the constituency to campaign with her in recent days, and added that this is proof that the party suspects that she is heading for defeat.
According to the MP-hopeful, she is determined to see changes in the constituency and to improve the lives of people from all social strata.
“Change requires tenacity, change requires commitment, change requires competence, and it requires sustainability. That is something that will characterise my leadership in that constituency. Real change will also translate into productivity, development… and you will see a developing constituency where the middle class is growing and the people are making a contribution to this country in the way they should,” said Phillips.
The often outspoken councillor said the PNP is looking better in the constituency than it has for many years.
“The numbers are there, the momentum is there, the kind of energy you are seeing on the ground…was not there so much in 2016. The Comrades are upbeat and I believe that we will come out with even more votes than we did when Andre Hylton won in 2011,” declared Phillips.
“Residents of some communities which I have not campaigned in yet have been reaching out to me and saying why they are willing to consider my candidacy and the People's National Party this time around.
“The truth is, when you listen to the radio sometimes, or even on social media, you would believe that corruption doesn't matter, but in sections of my constituency, like Hope Pastures, Pines of Karachi and Long Mountain, you find that there is a sense of disgust, there is a sense of annoyance among the people...” said Phillips.