Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Opposition leader Andrew Holness were among the scores of party officials and supporters, who turned out for yesterday's Nomination Day exercise in Central Westmoreland, which saw businessman Dwayne Vaz and banker Faye Reid Jacobs being ratified as the candidates for the ruling People's National Party (PNP) and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) respectively for the December 1 by-election, to fill the vacancy left by the late Roger Clarke, as member of parliament.
Vaz and Jacobs will have another contender come election day, as Ras Astor Black, of the Jamaica Alliance Movement (JAM), was also duly nominated under the guidance of Maurice Rodriques, the returning officer for Central Westmoreland constituency.
Jacobs, who came to the nomination centre flanked by Holness and fellow party stalwarts Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, party chairman Robert Montague and deputy leader Horace Chang was the first to be nominated at 10:43 a.m., paying her J$3,000 nomination fees with J$100 notes.
"By the grace of God and with good organisation, we are going to create history here in Central Westmoreland," said Jacobs. "We are doing the work on the ground and we are confident and ready."
Holness was quite upbeat after the nomination exercise, saying he was feeling a wind of change blowing in Central Westmoreland.
"We have selected a good candidate, who is a daughter of Westmoreland. We think she will be a good candidate," said Holness.
The tempo reached fever pitch at approximately 11:25 a.m. when Vaz, with Prime Minister Simpson Miller arrived at the nomination centre ahead of a large contingent of orange-clad party supporters. His nomination was quite smooth as he paid his fees in J$1,000 notes.
"The campaign is going great ... the traction is great and the ground, and we are confident that we will have a landslide victory come December 1 ... . I know the issues and the people know that, so that is why I am enjoying such great energy on the ground."
Simpson Miller confident
Prime Minister Simpson Miller was full of confidence, describing Central Westmoreland as PNP country, declaring that victory for Vaz was a foregone conclusion.
"This is PNP territory ...; this is a constituency that has consistently been voting for the PNP ... . We have a young man who is equal to the task and we are sure that he will get the job done come election day," the prime minister said. "Once he gets elected, he will have the full support of the party and the Government."
Ras Black, who showed up at mid-day, was also confident, albeit he showed up with just one supporter by his side. He quickly paid his nomination fees and then declared he was ready to support the people of Westmoreland, especially the ganja farmers.
"I am confident of victory ..., as you know, this is a ganja parish and the people want a leader to stand up and protect their rights," said Ras Black. "The people are tired of poor representation ...; they want a leader who cares ... ."