Wint the winner! - The man who dimmed Tufton's light is no neophyte
Devon Wint may not have a national profile like Dr Christopher Tufton, but the three-term councillor from Point Hill in the deep rural climes of St Catherine is a hardened political warrior who has spent his years in the trenches.
Wint clipped Tufton's wings last weekend in a selection contest to be the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) candidate for West Central St Catherine.
Many thought he was a lawyer as Wint was one of the faces of the Manatt Commission of Enquiry, sitting strategically behind the witness chair when members of the JLP were giving testimony.
But even though he has an interest in the law, he is no lawyer. Wint served as the deputy mayor of Spanish Town between 2003 and 2006 during the reign of Mayor Dr Raymoth Notice.
Having attended Watermount Primary School and St Jago High School, Wint said he was an ardent supporter of sports, especially football and cricket, though he never played either.
A College of Arts, Science and Technology (now University of Technology)-trained quantity surveyor, the 34-year-old Wint is also a trained non-legal clerk of court from the Justice Training Institute.
But he was always interested in politics.
"I became really interested in politics when Dr Kenneth Baugh came to the constituency in 1997. Before that, I started out in the Point Hill Scouts movement ... and also on to Young Jamaica, the youth arm of the JLP. So I have been involved for quite some time," Wint told The Sunday Gleaner.
STARTED OUT YOUNG
At age 21, he challenged for the job of JLP councillor/caretaker, and four months later, he would become the party's representative for the Point Hill division.
"I have been Dr Baugh's campaign manager since 1997, so I have been learning about the political model in terms of organisation and how that has led to the JLP's continued success in the constituency since the days of Enid Bennett and now Dr Baugh. The baton has now been passed to me," said Wint.
One person who endorses Wint is former mayor Notice, who said the new caretaker is politically astute and was instrumental in guiding him as a newcomer to representation politics.
"He appears quiet and unassuming, but he was the most brilliant of the JLP councillors in the council during the time I served as mayor. He was my political adviser, and I relied on him a lot for guidance and procedure on how things are done. And he was certainly the most vocal of the councillors in the chamber," said Notice.
"He is always present where it matters most - funerals, graduation, nine nights - everywhere where the people are," Notice told The Sunday Gleaner, adding that Wint has never been too far from the people in the division.
BORN IN AREA
Wint was born and raised in Point Hill, has constructed a house there, and resides in the community, and the JLP delegates there rewarded him with a more than two-to-one victory over Tufton in the division.
Except for 1997, when St Catherine West Central was won by the People's National Party's Alethia Barker, the JLP has always held the seat, and Wint acknowledges the work of his predecessors.
"I want to salute Dr Baugh for the representation he has given to the constituency since 1997. I am not going to reinvent the wheel, but I hope to build on the foundation he has left behind and work for the betterment of the constituency.
"The people have told me that their needs are water, roads, and better opportunities for employment. I hear them, and I am aware that they have the power," said Wint, who is the father of three girls, two in primary school and one in high school.
Tufton pushing to reverse result
Dr Christopher Tufton has written to the JLP's secretariat requesting a meeting to discuss what he believes were irregularities in the selection process in St Catherine West Central.
Tufton believes he won the contest by at least five votes, and that the result, which saw Wint declared winner by 15 votes, was tainted by vote-buying and several other irregularities.
In a letter to JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, Tufton, a former JLP deputy leader and minister of government, said there were at least eight instances where Wint got an unfair advantage.
Two of those instances, he said, saw people who were never party workers in the constituency being placed on the voters' list.
"We have credible information that persons on the Wint team were engaged in widescale vote-buying. The Jamaica Labour Party must decide whether this is a form of internal electioneering, which they are prepared to sanction."