Candidates fight for the hearts of Manchioneal residents
An intense race is on between first-time councillor candidate for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Paul Thompson and incumbent Elaine Osbourne for the Manchioneal division in Portland, with a win by either contender likely to determine which side gains the ascendancy at the Portland Municipal Corporation, which is currently held by the People's National Party (PNP).
The PNP won five of the nine divisions in Portland in the 2012 parish council elections, but the JLP is vowing to take control in the November 28 polls.
The JLP won six divisions in the February 25 general election.
However, Osbourne, the sitting councillor, is not perturbed that the JLP received 49 more votes in the Manchioneal division in February to overturn the PNP's 255 majority in 2012.
"I was born here, never slept out one night; if my people cry, I cry with them; if they laugh, I laugh, with them. I know their pain, I know everything about them, I am a son of the soil in Manchioneal," a spirited Osbourne told The Gleaner.
Describing herself as one of the hardestworking councillors the division has ever seen, Osbourne listed among her achievements the paving of eight parochial roads and the lobbying of the Rural Water Supply Limited to get piped water into the communities of Belle Castle, Haining and Scotts Run.
However, Thompson has accused his counterpart of neglecting the concerns of residents in the division, noting that the roads are in disrepair.
"The road to the Manchioneal Health Centre was in a deplorable condition ... . People who want to go to the health centre, they have to park by the police station, so I have decided to fix it out of my own pocket," he told The Gleaner.
"Before I decided to run, I was living like a councillor, doing what a councillor supposed to do, because my father was a JLP councillor."
Asked why he was just throwing his hat in the ring, Thompson said there were persons before him and "nothing happens before the time".
When The Gleaner visited Manchioneal last week, Thompson's supporters were singing his praises, hailing him as a "man for the people".
Soaking up the compliments, Thompson said: "Most of my friends are PNP, and this election is about friends and family, and they have proven what type of person I am already so it was easy for them to make a decision to vote for me because I am a person who cares."
The other division in Portland that could determine which party controls the municipal corporation in the parish is Balcarres, which the PNP won in the 2012 local government elections. However, in the February general elections, the JLP received 166 more votes than the PNP.