Crawford shows off accomplishments
Amid much speculation about his political future, there are signs that Damion Crawford will be seeking to retain his St Andrew East Rural constituency in the next general election.
The clearest indication came on Tuesday when Crawford took Minister of National Security Peter Bunting to get a first-hand look at projects he has implemented in the Harbour Heights and Windsor Lodge sections of the constituency.
One of the projects, a fully computerised after-school facility established in Windsor Lodge to accommodate some 135 students, is part of the first-time member of parliament's signature 3-2-1 programme, which seeks to have three persons per household with Caribbean Examinations Council passes in five years and one degree per household in 20 years.
There are reports that more than five persons have expressed an interest in representing the governing People's National Party (PNP) in the semi-rural constituency, which takes in Gordon Town in rural St Andrew and Bull Bay in the eastern end of the city.
Crawford shied away from questions about his political future but confirmed that he has not yet informed the PNP secretariat whether he would be seeking re-election.
"There is still time [to inform the PNP secretariat]," was all he was prepared to say.
However, he talked at length about the after-school facility, which is located in a community centre that was "used for squatting and other activities" before it was renovated at a cost of just under $12 million.
Crawford said it would also serve as a literacy centre for students who are reading below their grade level.
The centre consists of outdoor study gazebos, a library, and a solar-powered computer lab, and buses will be provided to transport students from Harbour View and communities in Ten Miles, Bull Bay.
"We thought that it was necessary to fix it up and create an oasis that I'm very proud of," he said.
But the first-time MP, who at one time faced criticism from some constituents for his focus on education, was unapologetic about this approach.
"I saw a demonstration with 20 people ... 10,000 people voted for me, so 9,980 didn't have a problem," he quipped.
"The reality of the situation is that most people of good intent are happy to see improvements. Other persons of not-so-good intent are not willing to facilitate improvements, they are just more noisy than the persons who are satisfied," he continued.
Crawford said through assistance from his councillors, many persons are coming out to make use of the facility.
The other project is a $4 million recreational park that has been created in the squatter settlement community of Harbour Heights on the outskirts of Harbour View.
The park, which is still under construction, boasts a small amphitheatre built around a pre-existing watchtower that provides a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea.
Crawford said the idea was to transform the environment in order to remove all the "facilitators of criminal activities".
"We understand that being a derelict building, it was facilitating all manner of activities. We hope that on a Sunday, all of Harbour View would come here like it is the 'Devon House' of the east," he explained.
Bunting said it was a model he would recommend to other political representatives, who, he argued, must be central to the efforts to mobilise communities around the issue of crime prevention and reduction.
"It's not sufficient to sit by and wait for law enforcement to solve the problem because if they wait for law enforcement to solve the problem, it's not going to be solved ... . They are just one player," Bunting reasoned.