Vaz wins Central Westmoreland candidacy
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU: Businessman Dwayne Vaz was lifted in the air by jubilant supporters in Central Westmoreland as Senator Wensworth Skeffrey announced him as the People's National Party (PNP) candidate in Central Westmoreland following a special delegates election held at The Manning's School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on Sunday.
Skeffrey, who is the Region Five chairman, presided over the election.
Vaz polled 329 of the 575 votes cast to emerge victorious over rival attorney-at-law Michael Erskine, who received 245. There was one spoilt ballot.
"It feels great. First of all, I want to congratulate the party for letting due process take its course. The delegates have spoken, and this is the way the People's National Party (PNP) does business," Vaz said. "... I want to congratulate Michael Erskine for a good fight. This was a hectic week and we enjoyed the competition. Michael is my friend, and I know that after today he will support me and we will move forward in one unity."
He added: "This is what we wanted and this is what we got, so we want to tell the Jamaca Labour Party that come soon when we call this by-election, all Comrades will be moving with one voice and we will move forward to keep it in the hands of the PNP.
Party Chairman Robert Pickersgill said he was pleased with how the party supporters behaved throughout the day.
"I want to congratulate the Comrades for a peaceful, productive and well-run contest. I also want to congratulate two candidates and their two teams. It only goes to show that the PNP, in keeping with its rich tradition for the keeping of democracy and free and fair elections, is demonstrating to the public once again that we will always do it."
Pickersgill also announced that he had a joint resolution signed by both teams that the process was transparent and fair.
He said the next process would be nomination and then the by-election. He had a word for all the PNP supporters who turned out.
"The Comrade leader said she wants the election to be over quickly, and she does not want any vacuum to be left in Central Westmorland," Pickersgill said.
Vacancy was created with the death of Roger Clarke in the United States last August.
Vaz's victory overturns an earlier decision taken by the party executive, based on a poll which had reportedly determined Erskine should be selected as candidate.