Four vie to replace Roger
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
AT LEAST four persons are vying to replace Roger Clarke as the People's National Party's (PNP's) standard-bearer in Central Westmoreland, and one party insider says Michael Erskine, president of the Cornwall Bar Association, is the front-runner.
"Based on the work he has done in the constituency, he (Erskine) is perhaps the best person to go forward at this time," a member of the PNP hierarchy told The Gleaner.
Erskine, too, is upbeat that he will get the nod from the party to lead the constituency.
"I am definitely confident of that. The other Comrades are good Comrades, but I believe that I am perhaps best suited to take up the mantle," he told The Gleaner.
But the notion of Erskine being the front-runner has been dismissed by Dwayne Vaz, who served as consultant to Clarke.
Vaz, a 33-year-old businessman, said the playing field was level and anyone could emerge victorious.
In addition to Erskine and Vaz, Roger Allen and Angela Thompson, daughter of former Member of Parliament James Thompson, have put their hands up, asking to be considered for the seat.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
"The names that have surfaced so far within the constituency will have the same level of difficulty as me," Vaz told The Gleaner.
"I don't see anything that would give them an advantage of being selected over me in that regard. Our chances are similar. All of us from the constituency are known to be involved in the political process … . At the end of the day, if we are to go to a selection, the delegates will decide, and anyone who goes through will get the support of the others," Vaz said.
Clarke died on August 28 while attempting to return to the country after a back operation at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. He was in his second term as member of parliament for the constituency.
Clarke's death will pave the way for a by-election in the constituency.
The PNP has not lost Central Westmoreland since 1989, and the aspirants are convinced that it will remain within the party's column.
The Jamaica Labour Party has selected Fae Jacobs as its standard-bearer for the seat. She replaced Marlene Malahoo-Forte, who resigned as caretaker following defeat to Clarke in 2011.
While The Gleaner was unable to contact Allen, Thompson said one of her main reasons for offering herself was the fact that there are no women in political leadership in the parish.
"It is not that men don't understand, but women have a better understanding of the pain and struggles at this time," the 67-year-old told The Gleaner.
At the end of the day, if we are to go to a selection, the delegates will decide, and anyone who goes through will get the support of the others.